Ah, November. So full of stuff. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (I’m American). This is when it truly gets cold and wet and the days are so short you really notice it. I love snuggling down under a fuzzy blanket with a cup of hot tea or cocoa. There’s also this crazy charity beard thing a lot of men do, called Movember. Even without that, lots of men grow one anyway for warmth (or out of laziness, I’m sure). Veteran’s Day, or as I think of it, A Random Day My Kids Have No School. The start of the Xmas shopping frenzy. In many places, hunting season begins. I guess it’ll mark the end of the baseball season this year. Daylight Savings Time ends.
There was something else. Hm. What was it? Oh yes, of course.
If you’ve never heard of it, National Novel Writing Month (for the record, there are participants all over the world, but it started as a US thing) is an event managed by a nonprofit charitable organization called the Office of Letters and Light. Their mission is to provide tools for combating illiteracy. Their other mission is to provide tools for people to get off their butts and write that novel you always said you’d write. Even if it’s just for yourself.
This year will be my 6th time doing (and winning) NaNo. I credit NaNo with my becoming an Author instead of just a writer, because I never would have developed the confidence to do it without discovering I actually could. (That makes sense, I swear.) The entire point is to push yourself to write at least 50,000 words for a single story in one month. 30 days. You do it by writing at least 1667 words per day. Sounds easy, turns out to be difficult because of the ‘single story’ part.
The point has nothing to do with the quality of those 50k+ words. There’s this mistaken belief in the minds of many would-be Authors that books must be born from your mind in a near-perfect state. Absolute nonsense. Hogwash. Horse puckey. Pifflesticks. The first draft of a novel always, always needs some kind of significant changes. Sometimes, it’s a few important tweaks here and there. Other times, oh my gosh, that whole chapter needs to go. Worse, that whole plotline is crap. Let’s not get into how many rewrites Dragons In Chains needed. yet, Dragons In Pieces only needed the ending redone (Ten times, but who was counting? Not me. Naw.) and a few scenes added. And so on.
What is the point? Barfing words. Sure, quality matters more than quantity, but only in the finished product. In the initial stages, you gotta get something down on the page and keep getting stuff down on the page until your brain dribbles out your ears and nose, and you have to wipe the goo off your keyboard. Either you succeed and have a first draft, or you fail and gain some insight into what Authors do.
There’s something about knowing hundreds of thousands of other people are doing this at the same time that makes NaNo special and magical. For me, this time is about meeting new people working on the same journey I am, making friends and finding new authors to explore when I’m done, screwing down in discipline, and focusing on a story. I can write a book any time of the year, but doing it during NaNo is different. It’s a shared experience, even though every book is different.
Of my books, Dragons In Pieces and Damsel In Distress were both written originally for NaNo. I have thoughts about mining the other winners, sometimes. One of them is so horrible, I’m not sure there’s anything to salvage beyond the basic concept. The others are okay, and maybe I will get to them at some point. One in particular would fit well into my plans for the Ilauris setting novels.
This year, the plan is to get The Greatest Sin #3 written next month. We’re still working on the plot, though, so my backup plan is an urban fantasy with a theme of city spirits vs nature spirits, otherwise known as man vs nature. I’m also looking at the possibility of something really wild and out there for me: a book with no fantasy or sci fi elements. And I still have Chowndie to get back to.
Bring on winter. I’m ready to buckle down and pump out the words. Rawr!