Friday, 11 October 2013

Nearing NaNoWriMo

Wenesday, I spent the afternoon with my writing group, sitting on a patio in the warm October sun, with bright blue skies overhead, and a sometimes brisk breeze tossing the leaves all about. The resident black squirrel came for his usual treat of peanuts, as did the blue jays, and we were entertained by their antics. Even a small chipmunk stopped by for a visit.

Conversation centred on NaNoWriMo, that's National Novel Writing Month. It's an annual, world wide challenge for writers to complete a novel, minimum of 50,000 words, in the 30 days of November.

We all completed the challenge for 2012, on the first try for three of us. We laughed and joked about monitoring each other's progress on the NaNo website. You enter your word count and it keeps a running total, and informs you how many words you need to write daily, from that point on, to reach the required number of words by the end of the month. There are chat rooms, forums, and so many fun things to encourage and support the writers.

Create Space offered free paperback copies of any completed novels, and kindly gave each writer until June to prepare a cover and complete the edits on their book. Believe me, writing more than 1500 words a day does not allow much time to edit as you go. It's called a rough draft for a reason.

With all that I had going on last spring I didn't get the edits completed in time, and I'm sorry to say, could not take advantage of this opportunity. I had really wanted to see what my book looked like in print.

Only one of us completed the necessary work, and I'm green with envy. She has a book, with a beautiful cover, her name displayed across the bottom, and the printed pages bound neatly together, tangible evidence of her hard work and creativity. It's (ha ha) a novel experience for most of us.

Only one other writer in the group has had this experience, and I'm sure she'd agree the thrill never goes away.

If I can complete the challenge this year I won't miss out on this offer again.

The rules for the challenge are simple, you can't start to write until November 1st, but you can do research, outlines, characterizations, whatever is your planning style, prior to that date. Knowing that the first day to write is only weeks away we have all been thinking about this year's story. We shared our storylines and enjoyed a lively discussion.

Writers can't help but give feedback. Give them a story idea and their imaginations take flight. It's amazing the number of different perspectives you gain from such a discussion.

I have always found that when I verbalize an idea it changes as I speak, becoming more structured, more workable. Sometimes I just need to stop it swirling about in my mind, like that cartoon characterization of the man with the birds flying in circles over his head. Now that I think about it, that cartoon depicts someone who's a little crazy, oh well, it still applies. LOL.

I have a couple of nonwriter friends who patiently listen to my ramblings as I work out a story line or a problem with a plot. I trap them in a restaurant under the guise of a friendly dinner out.

Last year, in September, I started a book that was a challenge for me. I wanted to try something new and decided on fantasy, inspired by the fantasy writer in our group. About 10,000 words in, I had a female character who had inadvertently been given the power to change time, and was in danger from those who wanted to deprive her of the key to do so.

I had been so enthusiastic I started writing without my usual prep work and found myself stumped, as I hadn't really thought it all out. So I went to dinner with a friend and gave her a quick overview of what I had written thus far. I'll admit it was probably not as short and swift as she might have liked.

She peltered me with one question after another, and I could barely keep up. It was apparent I had written myself, or my heroine, into a run for her life and had no idea how I was going to save her. All those questions, from a reader's perspective was just what I needed to get me back on track. I went home and wrote the prologue, the story of how this magical key, that allowed one to shift time, had passed from ancient to modern times. It gave the background for what was to follow.

Unfortunately, that book was set aside and still sits in that dusty drawer of unfinished work. To be honest it's on a flashdrive, but that doesn't give as clear a picture of abandonment. I set that book aside to start my NaNo novel, and learned not to start a new project so close to November.

One day I'll pull it out and rescue that poor girl.

So, back to yesterday, I got feedback on my new storyline, started my story binder and added all the notes from our discussion. I still have a lot of work to do before I start writing, especially some research, but that's okay, I have twenty more days to get it organized.

And FYI, if you read Wednesday's blog, the spider was there on the wall when I went out, and gone when I got home. Amazing how uncomfortable I was with that small bug taking up residence over my bed. I'm relieved it's gone, though I did shake out the linens and pillows on the bed before retiring.

"Itsy bitsy spider went........"?  

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