Today is the first of November, and you know what that means to me? Today is Day 1 of the insanity that is NaNo.
What is NaNo? National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.
In 2011, we had 256,618 participants and 36,843 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists. (From http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/about)
I’ve participated in NaNo every year since eighth grade. I only won once – in tenth grade – but every year I come back to try again.
This year, I’m trying something new. In years past, each of my stories has been some variation on a quest narrative, with some sort of grandiose magic and talking animals and kings and queens and bizarre religions. This year, I’m trying my hand at a contemporary story, and I almost have a plan for it, which is not usual. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish by the end of the month, because that’s always my goal: a completed story.
I’ve never met my goal, not even on my “winning” year. That 51k monstrosity is just an outline. An OUTLINE. It has contradictions and characters who randomly pop into existence and sentence structure that is in French.
As I sail off again into NaNoLand, I wish all of you undertaking this journey with me luck, and to those of you staying behind, please, have mercy.