I've decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year. Considering my abysmal record of consistency in blog-production, I expect to stink and fail, but I intend to give it a go. After all, stinkage and failure are nothing new for me. Both daughters are taking the challenge, too, so we are approaching it as a lazy yet meaningful family activity.
Older daughter Mary has been involved in this national creative writing effort for the last two years. When she first began telling us about it, I thought it was a ploy her English teacher cooked up to trick the class into experimental writing. Turns out, it really is a growing, coordinated movement intended to connect novice, struggling or insecure novel-writers and create a supportive, encouraging atmosphere that will allow anyone to produce a 50,000 word novel, or fraction of one, in 30 days. (Note how my list-heavy, adjective-laden prose and run-on sentences are just bursting onto the page already!) Check out the detailed NaNoWriMo event webpage at http://www.nanowrimo.org/.
Now, since I never seem to start anything on time, I'm sitting down this morning, November 1, the first day of NaNoWriMo, to begin reading a book that tells how to best succeed at this effort. In typical illogical fashion, I've decided to write a blog about starting to write a novel, right after I read the book about writing a novel in 30 days. To add to the irony, it's been about 30 days since I posted a blog entry. I've almost talked myself out of it already. I'll make this a short post so I can get on with my reading about writing so I can get on with writing. Should I write about reading? Write about writing? Ugh!
Mary's first year's effort was a disappointment to her - she didn't quite make the 50,000 word mark by November 30th. I was impressed by her determination and hours of labor. She says she tried to change her plot in mid-stream and bumped into a dead-end from which she couldn't escape. I think they call this writer's block in the trade.
However, last year, she read the book No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, which is designed to prepare the fledgling NaNoWriMo participant for the experience of grinding out approximately 1,600 words per day.
Mary took the lessons in the book to heart, to the point that she can give official-sounding lectures about the book and its principles of draft writing. She completed the challenge last year and has been editing her novel off and on since then. When she's done, we will order a few bound copies of her story about good and evil in a feline alternative dimension. She hasn't let me read much yet, but the few parts I've read are very promising. She has a wonderful, evocative vocabulary and more imagination than anyone I know. I envy her her early recognition and dedicated use of her creative and artistic gifts.
She convinced Camille and I to pursue the NaNoWriMo challenge this year. Camille actually wrote a few paragraphs before school this morning. She has a plot idea that seems to stem from a combination of teenage angst and a fascination with super-powers. Mary is not working in the cat universe this year, but I still think talking animals figure into her plot idea. Updates to follow.
And me, well, I'm practicing my considerable skill of avoiding starting something. (What a terrible sentence!) So after I dig up some suitable pictures to round out this anemic entry, I'll cuddle up with No Plot? No Problem! (click here for an amazon link) and see if I can read 172 pages and write 1,600 words before the girls get home from school. Because the only thing I like better than impressing my kids is embarrassing them: