Staples Business Depot would like us to believe that August and September make up the most wonderful time of the year. Most people seem to believe that Christmas is the most wonderful time of year.
And then there are a few hundred, maybe even a few thousand strange people that are convinced that October and November, especially November, are the best time of the year.
Why is that? Well, it’s simple. November is National Novel Writing Month. Each year in November, thousands of people gather both on the interwebs and in real life, all with the same goal: to write 50, 000 words or a first draft of a novel. They gather on forums and in chat rooms. There are local Nanowrimo groups in hundreds of cities around the world with varying levels of activity. People come from all walks of life: university students, dentists, scientists, web designers, artists, mathematicians. You name it, we’ve got it.
I participated in Nanowrimo for the first time when I was eleven. It changed my life. I became more confident in my writing. I knew I could write a novel–a big deal for most eleven year old kids–and even better, the community loved the excerpts I brought to the social events. When people ask me how long I’ve been a writer, I tell them that I’ve always wanted to write books for a living, but that I started seriously writing when I was eleven. During Nanowrimo. It changed the way I think about life, about writing.
To make it even better, I made lots of new friends. My mother also participated in Nanowrimo that year, and she took me to a number of the social events and a handful of writing events. I’m blessed to live in Toronto because we have one of the most active local groups–we even have our own website (http://www.torontonano.org/v2/) with our own chatroom. The people I met that year, during my first Nanowrimo, and the people I’ve met every year since are some of the most awesome people I’ve ever met. I love them dearly, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
Nanowrimo isn’t for everyone. Published authors all have different opinions on it. Some people enjoy it. Some people don’t. But I think everyone with a serious interest in writing should give it a shot at least once. You might not succeed, but at least you can say you tried. And even if you only write a thousand words, that’s a thousand words you hadn’t written before. It’s an accomplishment. Something to be proud of. Only those of us who hit or surpass 50, 000 words will get winners’ certificates, but one of the most important things to remember about Nanowrimo is that every participant who tries is a winner. It’s all about stepping out of your comfort zone and forcing you to do something potentially life-changing.
This year for Nanowrimo, I’ll be working on a novel currently titled Some Secrets Should Never Be Known. It’s a story about a ward of the Queen who’s actually the rightful heir to the throne but doesn’t know it. With her best friend Logan, she sneaks into a secret room deep in the castle, and she discovers the secret of her lineage. She narrowly escapes execution by the Queen. Somewhere along the way she is separated from Logan, and a bit later she’s found by a couple. The couple belong to a village of outcasts, people banished by the Queen, and the village takes her in. Eventually she becomes a renowned warrior and leader, and she finds Logan in one piece. Together they take back the kingdom that’s rightfully hers.
It’s a project that’s been sitting in my head since sometime last year, when I had a dream about it. It wasn’t a dream about it–the dream was the story. The whole story. In my head. Kind of eerie, but I’ve written up pages and pages of notes about the mythology, the legal system, and the story itself. This is the part where I blush and admit that the legal system is worked out better than the one for Moonshadow, hence the halt in my revision on that book. All in all, I can’t wait to get started on this story.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be putting the finishing touches on my worldbuilding (though I’m sure I’ll need to come back and do a lot more once I’ve written the book) and I’ll be discussing how you should prepare for your own Nanowrimo novel. A couple of the things I’m planning to talk about are character development, basic outlines and of course, your Nanowrimo survival kit. (That’s where you put the chocolate.) And then, in a few short weeks, it’ll be time to start our novels.
What are you writing about this November? Are you actually participating in Nanowrimo?