NaNoWriMo winners celebrate at library
By Janette Turner
The first of December came as a great relief to the thousands of NaNoWriMo participants around the world. For folks in the know, the name stands for national novel writing month, which encourages participants to pen 50,000 words in thirty days.
Emily Hill, “Losing Sight: New Orleans in the VooDoo Era,” 50,543 words.
Kim Votry, “Profit Lost,” 50, 013 words.
Sophie Cay, “The Quicksand Syndrome,” 59,224 words.
Jacob Repucci (age 12), “The Warriors of the Stare: The Beginning of the End,” 20,000 words.
Ed Davis, “Ed’s Adventures: Sailing solo around Vancouver Island,” (working title), 40,000 words.
In celebration of winning, Kay Vreeland penned the following piece.
December 1, and I have won National Novel Writing Month.
NaNoWriMo is over, and there is a piece of rainbow in the oyster-gray sky now, smiling at me, encouraging me.
I discovered things I wasn’t expecting!
1. Being part of an engaged community was the best thing about NaNoWriMo! The local kickoff parties, the writing buddies who sent encouraging words, the NaNo Pep Talks that hit the right button every time, and, most of all, the NaNoWordSprints on Twitter, plunged me into a circle that really supported the lonely business of writing. Serena Lawless of Galway, Ireland, was my favorite NaNoWordSprints leader—she referred us to her Tumblr images and I discovered the new joys of using visuals to spike writing, but all the Sprint Leaders were dynamic, creative sparks there for us 24/7. I loved it.
2. Learning from Founder Chris Baty, in No Plot? No Problem! what NaNo really is about was the best! Have a notion and then bang out the words, one after the other. No matter if that draft is pure dreck, it’s THERE. Yes, the weekly challenges were totally true, Week One was all euphoria; Week Two was the bummiest, but getting brilliant ideas in the middle of the night and jotting them on my Nite Notes was such fun! Week Three and the rapids were passed and the flow went on. Week Four was the icing on the cake. I was lucky enough to have a 17-year-old Table Of Contents as a sort of corset for typing all those words. I knew where I was going. Best of all, I Got There.
3. Having my bound NaNoNovel, with cover, title page, fake copyright, dedication, and epigraphs, plus the endpaper of the NaNo Winners certificate, made me happier than I’d imagined possible. My 59,244 words in those 16 chapters look so pretty, and so I carry it around, keep it in sight, and smile all day. I did it!
This was the good part and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.
And so, what’s next? Well, revision, of course. And that stops me in my tracks. I found out real fast that I know far less about writing a novel than I thought I did. Now I look at the detective homicide mystery I am reading and notice the little puzzlers at the end of each chapter, the dropped-in backstory like the Cheshire Cat in Wonderland that we don’t really see all of yet, the main character that I’d love to have lunch with, that I care about, and just enough description that I don’t skip over any of it—and I wonder how on earth one crafts all that.
And the other Eureka! It’s all really autobiographical, whether it’s the stuff from me that filled up my content, or the author on her eighth novel still using the town she grew up in, the name of her mother-in-law for a character, the city she lives in as her stage, and how much more that we strangers don’t see.
How to keep the fun and excitement of the NaNo splatting of words on the page as the craft of revision kicks our butt? How to make the plot grip, the characters fascinate, the story compel page-turning? Maybe I’ll just keep my bound NaNoNovel in sight, and every time I look at it, feel my heart lift, my smile biggen, and take that fun back into screwing the nuts on to the bolts straight, hammering the nails in the right place in the wood, making the foundation sturdy and the roof real pretty. The work of the novel writer is about to begin.
Oh, my, yes.