Drop in at the Library to do your solitary writing in solidarity! Tue, Wed & Thu evenings from 7-9pm, and Fri from 10am-1pm. We’re also hosting an editing session on Sat. Nov. 30 from 10am-1 pm. Please visit our online event calendar for a complete list of events.
posted on behalf of Jennifer Mentzer
It’s eleven a.m. on November first, and how many words have I written? None. Nada. Zilch. A big fat zero.
On any other day, this is pretty much the way it’s supposed to be. I don’t make a point of sitting down to write something each and every day of the year. But this year is different. This is the year I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo.
NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to write a novel (or close to it) in one month. Fifty thousand words, to be exact. That works out to 1667 words per day – about seven pages in 12-point type. A challenge not for the faint-of-heart, that’s for sure.
It’s an idea that has caught on like wildfire. Started in 1999 with just over two hundred writers, NaNoWriMo has grown to include hundreds of thousands of people and billions of words. This year, some of those words will be mine.
Like many librarians, I have visions of being an author. Not a writer, so much, but an author. Someone whose work is found on the shelf at the library, someone who has published something that someone else actually wants to buy. There’s a picture book, a chapter book for kids and an adult novel all in embryonic form on my laptop at home. The picture book and the others are unrelated. The chapter book and the adult book, though, are two versions of the same story.
I’d wanted to write a children’s chapter book about something that happened to me when I was growing up. It was one of those times that is distinct in my mind, even though I couldn’t tell you much else about the year I was ten. Something very bad had happened in the world, and I was very curious about it. My parents, trying to do their duty, tried very hard to shield me from all the news. They hid the copies of Time and Newsweek, kept tight control on the TV (we didn’t have a remote yet) and deferred my questions. They stymied my every move and kept me in the dark, and I was mad. Protected, perhaps, but mad.
As I began to write the story of a young girl being shielded from the world she craved to know, I found that I needed to write the story of the tragedy. I needed to explore how someone who was there felt about being so close to something so powerful, so difficult, so life-changing. And thus, my adult novel was born.
Since I already have some words committed to the page, I’m not writing for NaNoWriMo in the purest sense. The ultimate object is to begin with a blank piece of paper and start from word one. In NaNoWriMo parlance, I’m a “rebel.” And I’m also a little afraid. This is a big challenge. Am I up to the task? Will anything I produce be worth reading? What happens when I go on vacation next week?
As the month goes on, I’ll find out. And, if you read here regularly, so will you. Hang on. It’s going to be fun!