Summer was grand but I must admit, I have always loved Autumn. I am especially looking forward to November. Although I enjoy all the time spent with friends and family around various feasts at various tables, that’s not what I am most excited about. You see, last year I did something different with my November. Last year, I wrote a novel.
I first heard the term “NaNoWriMo” thrown around when I was in college. I was an English major so I can attest that my fellow bibliophiles were always up to something strange. I soon learned that November is National Novel Writing Month – or NaNoWriMo as it is known in certain not-so-secret circles.
Every year a handful of my fellow college students would embark on this journey. The rules are that you must write 50,000 new words in 30 days. That averages to about 1,666 words per day. By the end of the month, you will be the proud author of an entire novel. It doesn’t sound terribly insane until you take a few things into consideration. For one, finals were coming up. Mid-term grades were being posted. We were all already writing twenty-page-long research papers for other classes. Not to mention the endless final projects that were due. Who in their right mind would try to write a novel and in 30 days – much less in November?
Very few of them made it past the three-day mark. Not very many wrote consistently through the end of the week. Even less of them made it to the end of the month with their 50,000 words.
Now let’s fast forward five years. Post-graduation depression was weighing heavily on me. The world was a little less green since I had left campus. My dreams and ambitions were being replaced by the demands of reality. But I knew I had to do something to reignite my passion for writing. And that’s when I heard someone in my writer’s group mention NaNoWriMo. The time had come for me to take on that challenge.
Right off the bat I knew this was going to be difficult. Writing between 1,500 – 2,000 words per day doesn’t sound all that difficult, but in my real life, studying for exams had been replaced with a nine to five job. Papers and projects turned into chores and errands. Still, I was determined to find the time and write the words.
And I did. It was grueling. Some days were much more productive than others. I fell behind on my word count more often than I kept up. At times, my words felt like babble on the page; an empty, desperate attempt to reach the word count. On good days, I felt like Jane Eyre herself. But more importantly, I felt like a writer. That’s a feeling every writer deserves. It’s one thing to dream it, or even to say it. It’s a completely different kind of magic to sit down at your work space and feel like this is who you are meant to be; this is what you are meant to be doing.
Looking back, I can honestly say that that novel is nothing more than an over glorified mess of a story. But it’s mine. I love it. I think that with some editing, it really stands a chance to be read one day by other people who love good stories. Maybe my mom won’t be the only person who thinks it’s “really good.”
So, who should try NaNoWriMo? Anyone who has ever sat on a good story; the story you write in your mind as you’re washing the dishes. The one you kind of day dream about as your drift off to sleep. The plot you absentmindedly flesh out when you shower and brush your teeth in the morning. This is the chance to get that story out of your head and on the paper where it belongs. And that, you will soon find, is only the beginning.
– Elkid M.