So back in November 2007, I started a little thing called NaNoWriMo with my friends and co-workers. We work in an office but are all secretly (or not so secretly) writers at heart. Though I spend most of my day editing press releases and other pieces, I can’t shake the writing bug — and ultimately hope to wind up doing something a little more creative.
Well, a little bit about NaNoWriMo — it’s National Novel Writing Month, which is a challenge to writers everywhere to write a book in 30 days. The subject matter is of no importance, though I chose to write on, of course, “chick lit.” The book needs to be at least 50,000 words and should be complete by November 30.
This past year was amazing. I started working on a pretty personal book, something I hadn’t done since I was in high school — or sooner. I spent most my academic career reading other peoples’ books and poetry, writing and analyzing and studying it, then trying to grab some energy long enough to write something halfway decent myself. Sometimes I was successful; sometimes not. But I certainly hadn’t tried writing a novel in a long, long time.
My first draft was pretty rough. But that’s okay, I figured — it was just a draft. I worked tirelessly between two jobs and a myriad of other chaos in my life to crank out that 50,000 word draft, which morphed — miraculously — into a book.
I’ve since shelved it to work on several other projects, but just knowing that it’s there — now, waiting, as complete and reflective of me as I could make it — sends a little warm glow shining in my stomach. I finished another novel a few weeks ago and, thanks to my sister, have started editing that one. I really like it — I actually like it a lot. But that first one really means a tremendous amount to me.
My NaNo novel was written in two weeks in a fury of sleepless nights, too much caffeine and endlessly scheming and daydreaming. I would never have started if it weren’t for Gwyn and Leslie, my co-workers who told me all about the site and the endeavor. We sponsored a write-in in November and met 20 other NaNoers in Southern Maryland. I had the greatest time.
It’s thinking about the crazy, energetic and ecstatic wonder that comes from writing a book as quickly as you can — not stopping to think, analyze, or criticize — that keeps me going now, through June, through the monotony of my daily routine. It’s knowing that I am actually capable of creating something so thoroughly “me” that really sustains me — that moment when you stop writing the book, and the book begins to write itself. Chris Baty discusses that in his book, which serves as a companion to the NaNo experience.
Looking forward to November again — and working tirelessly (but very tiredly) in pursuit of the publishing dream . . .