It’s November, and I am participating in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept of NaNoWriMo, the theme is ‘Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!’ This means that you write your sweet tuchas off for thirty days, trying to reach a goal of 50,000 words by November 30th. There’s no multi-million dollar publishing contract, new car, or shopping spree awarded to NaNoWriMo winners, only a few cool web graphics and heaping helping of personal satisfaction.
For many people, writing a novel is a someday thing. My someday came in November of 2009, when I finished my first NaNo challenge with the bulk of my first novel, Contentment, written.
Of course, I didn’t know the first thing about writing for publication. I thought I had done it. I thought people would line up for just a peek at this work of literary genius. It didn’t take long to realize that my book was Tokyo, and the publishing industry was Godzilla. My poor, helpless baby was crushed, crumpled, torn down, and rebuilt no less than three times. Still, it was stomped on again and again.
I could have given up. I could have buried that manuscript in a file, wrapped myself in my wounded pride, and retired as a NaNo winner secure in the knowledge that I did indeed reach one of my life goals. But that’s the tricky thing about goals. They change.
I love to write. Books are my dope, and I wanted to be some reader’s Walter White, cooking up the good stuff. My new goal was to be a published author, and in order for that to happen I had a lot to learn.
I joined RWA and the Diamond State Romance Authors. I took classes online through Rose’s Colored Glasses, Savvy Authors, and RWA Online. I read books about writing books. I went to RWA National and sat in workshop after workshop, scribbling notes in my Moleskin notebook as fast as I could.
Utilizing this wealth of knowledge, I wrote, edited, and prepared another novel for submission. That second book sold! This in turn inspired me to go back and revisit the first. I plunged into one more revision using every tool I had acquired, and finally that book, my baby, found a home too.
In 2010, I used NaNo as the springboard to start my January release, just as I am using 2011’s challenge as the kindling I need for my next novel.
There are some who say NaNoWriMo is a mess, and that no one can write quality fiction in such a compact timeframe. Looking back at that first draft of Contentment, I can tell you for certain they are right. Hell, it was what we in the South would call a hot mess.
Does that mean I shouldn’t have done it? I say no.
The point isn’t to produce a finished product in thirty days. Remember the NaNoWriMo tag line? Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!
Did you get that? Literary abandon!
Who doesn’t want a piece of that?
November is my birthday month, and NaNo is the coolest present ever—a chance to write the way I want to write. With abandon. This is my opportunity to forget the rules, stop fretting about the commas, and embrace my inner adverb lover. Don’t worry, I’ll clean it up later. I promise.
Just as soon as I can rein in this abundance of abandon.