If you have a friend/family member/coworker/whatever who fancies themselves an aspiring writer and always looks a little stressed out in November they probably participate in NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. The basic idea is to write a novel of at least 50,000 during the month of November and it's both as successful and controversial as you would think. I tried it once and I remain proud of the 6000 words I wrote between 11/1 and 11/3 in 2005 and never looked at again.
I try to call myself a writer but the label doesn't sit right with me. I know too many people who embody the term better and after years of trying at it I'm still more unfocused and neurotic about the whole thing than I am nurtured by it. I did win a prize for a short story I wrote about Halloween in 5th grade. The prize was a $10 gift certificate to Sam Goody and I bought Wilson Phillip's self titled album on cassette so if I never actually succeed as a writer I'll at least have those hours spent listening to "Hold On" to cherish.
I used to write a lot because I had stories that needed to be written before I could think of doing anything else. Then I started working at a book store and like many an employee surrounded by that many books with a hunger to read them all I began to see what passed for publishable and wrote because I was better than these other so called authors. But the well's been dry for a long time and I'm left with:
- 2 unfinished short stories
- 1 character from a different story who needs a better home
- Not enough hours in the day
Jim Hines is a fantasy writer who keeps a blog on the writing process. I've never read any of his books but I'm a huge fan of his blog especially the weekly First Book Friday feature which highlights various authors and their journeys to their first published book. This past Friday was all about Chris Dolley and I couldn't help but feel inspired by his tale of three separate ideas combining into the perfect book. I realized I could take those two short stories, make the protagonist my beloved character and maybe produce something that would make me feel like a writer again.
Goal #1 is to work on those hours in the day which is why I think NaNoWriMo is a great idea but not for me. I might need a NaNoWriYear to pull this off but I'm not looking to get published at this point. A sense of accomplishment would be great and if someone wants to give me a $10 gift certificate to iTunes (RIP, Sam Goody) I won't object. My Wilson Phillips cassette disappeared a long time ago and it might be nice to replace it.