24 November 2014
November’s been an unusual month. For the first time in a year, I haven’t made my bed, vacuumed my floors or dusted my furniture. In fact, I haven’t done any housework at all. I haven’t walked the dogs, called my friends, returned messages, and I’ve hardly left the house.
I’ve eaten, but it hasn’t been a healthy diet. I’ve survived on sandwiches, chocolate bars and energy drinks. I’ve stayed up late – way, way too late, living in a world inhabited by personalities of my own making.
In case you haven’t guessed, I’ve been competing in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2014, and two days ago, I won the challenge. I completed a 50,000 word novel in only 22 days.
NaNoWriMo was established in July 1999 by Chris Baty in the San Francisco area, and that year there were 21 participants. In 2000 NaNoWriMo was moved to the month of November, to better take advantage of the bad weather. The popularity of NaNo has soared year by year, with 2013 counting 310,000 adult novelists, plus an additional 89,500 young writers. In NaNo, participants win if they complete a 50,000 word novel, or write 50,000 words towards a longer novel, during the month of November. Quantity, rather than quality is the desired output, to allow the creative mind to work unencumbered without the logical mind of the editor slowing down the process.
The NaNoWriMo site offers writers lots of incentives to keep engaged – there are community forums, where writers can connect with each other, and buddy up as part of the month-long marathon; there are pep talks by NaNo staffers and well known authors; and there are word sprints, hosted on tools like Twitter.
NaNo has produced a number of novels that have gone on to be published. Over one hundred of them have been published by traditional publishing houses, such as Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, published by Doubleday, which has been on the best seller lists since it’s release in 2011 and now has nearly 4,000 reviews on Amazon. Many more have been published by smaller presses, or self-published, like mine will be.
This is the second time I’ve done NaNo. Two years ago I wrote Taking the Lead, and I’m still editing the book and hope to release it on Amazon shortly.
This year I’ve written a novel called Liverpool Kiss. The idea for this novel has been with me for two years, even since I overhead a snatch of conversation on a bus one day. Here’s what it’s about:
Madonna Smith hates her life in Liverpool, so she leaves home, cuts herself off from her family and friends, and totally reinvents herself in London as girl about town Madeleine Smythe-Hamilton. Her newly forged life is wonderful – she has the perfect job, the perfect flat and the perfect boyfriend. But one day her past catches up with her, and exposes her lies. How will she cope, and what will she lose?
I’m originally from Liverpool, so on the twenty two days it took to get this first draft complete, I had a wonderful trip down memory lane.
To all those who are still writing – only six days to go until the end of NaNo – best wishes for the final sprint!
Soon, I’ll be back to editing, but first I have some other stuff to get to.
Like the housework.