Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaNoTRYMo – Or How to Write the Great American Novel in 30 Days or Less by Cathy Dilts

If you aren’t participating in National Novel Writing Month this November, you might confuse participant symptoms for an invasion of benign zombies. You’re reading this, so you must be a writer, and your circle of acquaintances surely includes people with dark circles under their eyes. They wander aimlessly, mumbling phrases to themselves like “kill Henry on page 22.” They shuffle from work to school to write-ins, lost in a fog that you hope doesn’t include a growing craving for human flesh.

Not to worry. These symptoms should subside by midnight November 30, when NaNoWriMo officially ends.

Pikes Peak Writers and the Imagination Celebration host NaNoTRYMo at the Chapel Hills Mall every Tuesday in November. Instead of the grueling requirement to write 50,000 words in a month, PPW offers writers the opportunity to set their own goals. Participants in a recent write-in survey discussed their novel writing ambitions.

Cynthia is writing contemporary women’s fiction. This is her first NaNoTRYMo. She started with an outline, and her goal is to complete 50 pages of her novel about a marriage as told through letters.

Sandy’s goal is to write a novel. She says she had an idea for a story about a werewolf for a long time. Sandy believes she has more of a perspective now, and is gaining confidence that she can write a novel and possibly get it published. This is also her first NaNoTRYMo.

Karen is participating for the first time in NaNoTRYMo, although she has been a long time member of the writing community. Her novel is a vindication of Grendel’s mother, based on the classic work Beowulf.

Rachael was the youngest participant at the write-in. Her story title is How Zombies Ruined Christmas.

Tamsin, writing a romance, and Becki, writing a children’s story, are not new to NaNoTRYMo. They knew what they were getting into, both having participated before. The intrepid repeat NaNo-ers offered their thoughts on the experience of attempting to write a novel in a month.

“Easier than I thought – thanks to plotting beforehand,” Tamsin wrote. Becki offered these words: “Gratifying, intoxicating, frustrating, exhilarating, hair-pulling, poke-in-the-eye not fun.” Her goal is “to finish the darn story.”

Rachael insisted the experience is “Great.” Ah, youth. Karen finds it “energizing,” while Sandy said it is “fun, as long as you are willing to work at it.” Cynthia echoed the concerns of most participants when she wrote that the experience is “hard – to make myself concentrate and find time.”

The time factor was mentioned by many participants. Karen wrote, “What helps me is to write every day – even if only one sentence.” That is the point of the NaNo experience – to push writers to write. If only we didn’t have day jobs, school, families, or lives to balance with our writing, we could get the darn thing written.

But then, if we didn’t have lives, I suppose that would make us zombies. We would have no excuse for the dark circles under our eyes, the shuffling walk, the mumbling to ourselves. I’ll stick with being a writer.

About the Writer:  Cathy Dilts is an assistant editor for the PPW blog. She writes cozy murder mystery and inspirational fiction, and has recently begun writing short stories because they’re easier to fit in to her busy schedule. Cathy’s publication experience is similar to fishing – getting lots of nibbles on the line, but no bites yet.

In her spare time, she enjoys raised bed gardening, which her husband claims look the perfect size for burying bodies, while reminding her that you can’t get rid of the bones.