Yes, folks, it's that time again. November has arrived (I'm still scratching my head at that...where did August go?) and along with the eleventh month comes NaNoWriMo .
Haven't heard about it? Well, National Novel Writing Month is a project that was created in 1999 by Chris Baty, with the idea that the participants would attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel of their choice in one month. Yup, that's a five with four zeros after it. In 30 measley days. Well, twenty-one brave souls signed up, and NaNoWriMo was born. Every year attendance and participation has blossomed, and by 2009, 170,000 people took up the challenge. Now, as an official non-profit run by the Office of Letters and Light, National Novel Writing Month is a force to be reckoned with.
So, Nano sounds cool, but why am I talking about it? You see, back in 2004, I was noodling around the internet and stumbled across NaNoWriMo. The premise intrigued me, and, just like 87% of the population, I always thought it would be fun to try and crank out a book, but never put the thought into action. So I plotted and researched, outlined and re-outlined. November 1st came and I bolted from the starting gate and never looked back. By the time the 30th rolled around, I had typed my 50,000th word. I shocked myself. Holy cow, I'd written the better part of a real novel! That accomplishment led me to the Loft, here in Minneapolis, where I took a number of writing classes from Ellen Hart and Lori L. Lake.
November 2005 arrived, and I did NaNoWriMo again. I again surpassed that 50,000 word mark by the end of the month. Sheesh, in two years, I'd written two (albeit rather horrid) first drafts! I worked on revising and editing the two novels, and learned just how much I didn't know that I didn't know about writing. That little lesson about did me in, but was absolutely necessary. When NaNo 2006 came calling, I changed my groove entirely, and pumped out 50,000 words of what is now Bingo Barge Murder, the first book in my Shay O'Hanlon mystery series that Midnight Ink will be releasing in May of 2011. This effort was SO much better than the previous two, and I really found my voice. The book was funny and quirky, full of danger, chases, kidnappings, and of course, the Boxer dog named Dawg.
Really, I have National Novel Writing Month to thank for being the match that ignited my writing flame. Without having stumbled on nanowrimo.org, I wouldn't be be able to say the words, "I'm a writer," and really mean it. This is one lucky and incredibly fun phase of my life that I hope lasts a good, long time.
So, if you happen to know any wanna-be writers, someone who really would like to write that book one day but can't quite get around to it, send them on over to the NaNo site. You might just have a hand in creating the next John Sandford.