No, you don’t have to say Gesundheit. NaNoWriMo (typically pronounced “nan-o-ri-mo”, or by occasionally “nan-o-ree-mo”) is kind of an abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month. Although, really, I though abbreviations are supposed to be, you know, short. But whatever, I’m not going to nit pick.
So, what is this National Novel Writing Month thing? Well, the short answer is that it’s November. But that’s probably about as helpful an explanation as asking the family dog about that ginormous orange ball of hot fusion hanging in the sky. Which, of course, Fido wouldn’t know was even fusion-ing. Ahem. Let’s move on.
Anyway, NaNoWriMo (I’m already tired of typing that) is this thing where, if you’re a writer or maybe not one and haven’t written anything since those abominable Thank You notes after high school graduation but, still, for whatever reason have this kind of twitchy urge to write a novel (for instance, you’re basically deranged, permanently whacked out on liquor and bath salts, or believe that maybe your life is just a little too easy and could do with a good dose of suffering), you spend a month banging at your keyboard like a chimpanzee hopped on Red Bull to see if you can get it out of you.
Hopefully exorcising the demons along with it.
Now, that said, you don’t really write a novel in a month, you just get a damned good start on one. The “winning” condition of this break-neck sprint to noveldom means producing 50,000 words of a draft by the tolling of December 1. However, 50k in wordage does not a novel make. At least it doesn’t for me, because of the genres I’m likely to write in, publishable books come in closer to 100k, give or take.
But this year, by gum, I’m going to do it anyway. And I’m pretty excited about. Also, yes, this is the “More on that later” I was talking about in this post.
When I first heard of NaNoWriMo (which I’m already hearing in a Robin Williams’ Mork voice in my head) in 2010, I was right smack in the flailing, wandering, oh-gawd-halp-me-I’ll-never-find-my-way-to-the-end middle of writing Famine. And one of the key points of the exercise is to work on a completely new project all month. Well, having put 8 months of sweat into a novel already, I wasn’t about to abandon it and hope to come back to it later. So I said, “maybe next time, NaNo,” and carried on.
Last year, I was knee-deep in wrapping up the editing and revisions phase of work on Famine, and was starting to think about the dreaded query. I wasn’t about to stop there and divert what precious little attention I could give to novel production to something brand new.
Especially since it would only produce half a furiously drafted novel anyway.
This year, though, is a little different. I’ve spent most of this year working through a non-fiction book, which is a completely new ball of wax. See, I figured it was going to be like writing 250 pages of blog posts. Guess what? It’s so not. But I’m making solid progress and expect to finish soon, actually, hopefully by the first of the year. The thing about it being non-fiction, though, means that it doesn’t have the same momentum that a fictional work has. There’s no through-line that’s been building during the writing that needs to be maintained in order to see it through. In other words, it won’t be hard to set it aside for, say, 30 days, and then pick it right back up, dust it off, and get back to work.
Which is exactly what I’m going to do.
Of course, the real question is, why the change of heart? After all, the better timing this year doesn’t change the fact that 50k still isn’t a completed novel.
Except when it is.
Sure, for adult novels, that many words just doesn’t get it done, which means that you’re not really drafting a whole novel in a month. But it’s not just adults that read books. Kids do too.
Now, before anyone get all excited about the possibility of a Puddin YA joint, calm yourselves. I’m not quite prepared to unleash my understanding of the Young Adult life upon on unsuspecting populace. My YA years were filled with social ineptness usually found only Saturday Night Live characters, so I’m not entirely sure how much I want to “write what I know” in that case.
But middle grade! Middle grade I can do, and MG books clock in at the 50k regularly. Even better, I’ve been looking for a reason to write a book in that category because my kids have been asking me to write a story for them every since I started this silly book-writin’ thing. And I even have an idea I like very much.
There it is, then. The stars, planets, or word-making Fates are apparently all lined up here in 2012 just perfectly for me. I suppose, then, it would be a shame to waste that.
As of November 1st, I’ll have 31 days to spit out 50,000 words of near-certain drivel. You know, while keeping up with the kids, the job, the blog, the ongoing running, etc, etc.
1600+ words a day, give or take. And I’ll be sure to have a progress bar up so you can follow along.
Wish me luck!