It's almost upon us again. That's right - National Novel Writing Month or as it has lovingly come to be called - NaNoWriMo. I'll detail a little about it but if you want more info -- go here: NaNoWriMo Webpage
A little history: NaNoWriMo started in 1999 with about 20-some participants. I joined the fray in 2000 at the urging of a friend from Portland, Oregon. There were only about 140 of us. I had a blast, I didn't finish, mostly because I attempted a cookbook which makes for a lot of timely formatting. I did about 39k words which I thought was good. (Hint: Don't do a cookbook for this!)
I didn't do it in 2001 due to my father's death in October.
In 2002 I was approached by another friend, this time from Toledo, Ohio. He dared me. Well, I don't back down too often from dares and I found myself once more in the race against time with words.
BUT, this time, I was organized. I created a small daily word count chart so I knew where I needed to be each day. This way I would know if I was ahead (ha, ha, ha) or behind. Now, 50,000 words divided by 30 days equals 1,666.66666(forever) words ... or rounded up, it would be 1,667 words per day. I am not the type of guy who likes to play with funky numbers so I rounded it up to 1700 words per day and that makes it come out to an even 51,000 words. That gave me a 1k cushion. Something I can live with.
Also in my arsenal was an outline, a character list and research material. But event he best of plans can go astray and I found myself needing more names and doing a little research on the internet. If you're like me, that means getting sidetracked and then, well, time is gone.
At the start my writing was clean, concise and very well executed. I was falling behind. So, even though I can type 100+ words per minute with pretty good accuracy, it was my only savior. I still needed to think faster. According to my typing ability, I only needed to spend about 20 mins a day typing in that day's required word segment.
Okay, I'm back. Even I couldn't keep a straight face with that last sentence and was on the floor laughing my ass off. Twenty minutes? Really?
So, I fell a little behind after the first few days. I fell behind a little more a few more days later and then before I knew it, uh, I was BEHIND big time!!
I'm sitting at about 36k and only a few days to finish. I work a full-time job and have a family. There are only 24 hrs in a day! I have a 4-day weekend. And now you know why it is called Thanksgiving!! Other than a short time away from the keyboard to eat the delicious meal that my wife prepared and be minimally sociable with the family who had come to visit, I was locked in the backroom typing.
I worked into the wee hours of the morning. Slept. Okay, being honest - my eyes closed and I conked out on the keyboard. Woke up and started typing. By Sunday night I had the novel finished and I was sitting at well over 51k words. And definitely in need of a long, hot shower!
2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. Uh, I retired at year's end in 2006 and now would have a lot more time to spend writing during the month of November.
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 always found me finishing up during the Thanksgiving weekend. BUT, each of those years, from 2003 through 2012, I finished.
Now for some more truth. Those last 5k to 15k words were pure, absolute diatribe. Meaningless sentences of complete nonsense. How do I know this? I proudly allowed a friend to read the unedited, finished product. He thoroughly enjoyed the scene where the old Indian is dancing in the backroom with blood all over him. The young lady is talking to the detective. "Ignore the man back there. He's just doing a rain dance." Now exactly how many detectives do you know who would see a bloody man dancing and think, Hey, he's cool... and move on?
After that, I learned to finish my novel, get my word count approved and NEVER show the story to anyone without first going over it and giving it a cursory edit or two.
Is NaNoWriMo worth the effort? Yes. My entries: "2012: Timeline Apocalypse" and "Vamazonia" are now in print and available. Of course, "Vamazonia" has been re-titled to "Ancient Blood: The Amazon" which has received great reviews. In fact, it is now book 1 in a planned series.
There is still time to join the hundreds of thousands who attempt NaNoWriMo each November. Just click the link and sign up. NaNoWriMo.org You won't be sorry.
This year I'm still undecided if I will participate or not. I mean, I've got about 3 books outlined, character cast and some research done. I'm ready if I decide to. Maybe I'll see you there.
Until next I ramble on...