A who to the what, now?
National Novel Writing Month - is 100% without a doubt my favorite secular celebration of anything. Way, way cooler than Talk Like a Pirate Day.
NaNoWriMo is a month-long novel writing event that takes place during the month of November. The object is to write 50,000 words worth of first draft, that you can later revise into a novel.
I have been a (very) long-time participant in NaNoWriMo. Eleven years is the figure I keep quoting on the forums, but having done a little napkin math, I am able to rattle off novel titles for eleven previous years, so this may, in fact, be my twelfth year!
And I didn't get "in" on NaNoWriMo until it had already been going strong for five years.
Here are seven quick takes about NaNoWriMo for me, this year, and why it's a red letter year.
I'm in charge this year! (No, not of the whole thing - that would be crazy.)
This year, I'm the Municipal Liaison (or ML) for the Baton Rouge region. I volunteered for the first time, when our previous ML (who was amazing!) announced that she would not be in a position to return as ML this year. I've wanted to do this for a while, but didn't want to step on the toes of someone who was already doing a good job!
So, shiny new role to play this year. I'm excited. (Be excited with me!)
Now, I haven't gotten "up to my ears" in running things yet - that'll come at our first pre-writing event on Sunday, but so far, this whole ML thing seems to be going well. I think I've done pretty good.
I've got a lot of my pep-talks pre-written (but I don't think I'm supposed to admit to that, though - shh!). I've started the conversation on our regional forum, and people are starting to get involved.
I'm working on reviving an older tradition in our area, but that might not come to fruition this year. It may take until next year before I'm able to get things going smoothly on that.
Plus, I'm working on getting together a little fundraising contest within our region - just to encourage donation.
There are two kinds of writers who participate in NaNoWriMo: planners and pants-ers. Planners do exactly what it sounds like. They meticulously plan their novels for NaNoWriMo, so that when November 1st comes, they have a clear road map of exactly where they're going. Pants-ers do exactly the opposite. They get to November with a title and a vague idea of what they want to write about and just go.
I am usually a planner. A couple of years ago, I actually had a detailed excel spreadsheet showing exactly how old characters were in relation to each other, because it was important to the story. I usually have a solid outline, detailed character sketches, and something approaching the shape of a map of my location (I usually write some variety of fantasy), but not this year.
No, this year, I've spent the last three months talking a good game for myself about pants-ing my novel this year. Just starting with the title Fifty False Starts, a main character who is doing NaNoWriMo (or failing at it) because she has "stuff" going on in her life, and she keeps throwing out her first thousand or so words - so I spend the months writing her opening scene or so... then switch to the writer's real life, and write about what's suddenly wrong with this version, what's going on in life, what she wants to change in the draft, then redraft the story to that point with the revisions. (Like, say, it started out as a romance; then say, no... I don't want to write romance - let's make it a thriller instead - then introduce some changes that make the story no longer a romance)
That's what I had wanted to do anyway.
Then I had to face a couple of facts about myself:
- I do better with a plan.
- I do not like surprises.
- I am a big chicken.
So, now, I've got a choice I need to make. I can either go through the motions of planning this novel (which... I would really plan on chucking as soon as it was done, and I really don't like knowing that.)... or I can look back at a couple of ideas I had kicked around last year, and earlier this year.
For a couple of the last few years, NaNoWriMo has been for me a sequence of novels engaging in the fun experiment of watching the world of King Arthur's court as experienced by Merlin, who, according to some of the tales, walks backward in time. (This is that novel that age was important for a couple of years ago - it started getting confusing...)
Anyhow, the overarching idea of the plot is that Merlin arrives at the "end" of King Arthur's happy kingdom, and finds everything "wrong", and the story is about how he goes about setting things right.
I've got one - perhaps two more books left to finish out the series, but the next one might prove difficult - the early days of Arthur's court - don't hold any special interest for me.
The Second Idea:
During the course of the year, I came across the idea of this 26,000 year "great year" that Earth supposedly goes through as it wobbles on its axis. (This idea is connected with the north pole passing through various constellations of the zodiac - I consider it to be so utterly unprovable as to be fiction.)
In any event, according to this idea, humanity has a "golden age" every 26,000 years or so.
My idea is that sometime in the (very) far flung future, humanity is nearing the end of a golden age - just starting to slide back into silver - and this guy (a guy of some influence) has realized that this is happening, and he seeks advice on some "problem" from this hermit.
The hermit is guy who's literally been alive for thousands and thousands of years. He's lived through an entire cycle. In the remote century of his birth time, he participated in an experimental drug trial that was supposed to reduce or eliminate the aging process. The drug was a colossal failure; most people in the human trials experienced accelerated aging and early death - except for this guy. He stopped aging all together, and it appears that if nothing changes, he will live on until either he is murdered or the world stops spinning.
I'm not sure if the hermit guy is in seclusion by his own hand or if he has been sequestered away from the world by the powers of the day. (Either seems pretty likely to me.)
The idea isn't terribly well fleshed-out, and it really needs to be before I start really writing on it. To tell the tale properly and well, I'll need to do a good many flash backs to the earlier days in the hermits life (come to think of it, "hermit guy" really isn't a good name, and I need a better one), and give the reader a more fleshed-out idea of why this guy is answering questions in the way that he is.
I usually "win" (in that I get to 50,000 words by the end of the month, but this year, I feel like the pressure is kind of "on" to win more than usual. For one thing, ML's need to set a good example. For another, next year I'm going to be breastfeeding a baby, and I may not get to participate at all, depending on how things are going. Realistically, this might be the last time I get to "do" NaNoWriMo for a while, and I want this year to be the best that it can be.
I'm excited. I'm nervous. It's going to be fun! And we are going to blow. this. up!
Oh! Dude! And you should totally do NaNoWriMo with us!
For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't the Lyceum!