This is better than Christmas as far as I'm concerned. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, or NaNo) starts in less than 30 days. www.nanowrimo.org The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, during the month of November. Do you win anything? Not really, just the knowledge that you wrote 50,000 words, or more, and a group of new writing friends. This will be my second year participating. Last year I went in with nothing more than "a young detective goes undercover to investigate a cult." I knew the main character's name, and that was it. By November 15 I had my 50K. By November 30, I had 87,000. By December 1, Divided Heart was complete at 90,000 words. I've since edited it and started it's sequel.
This year I've done a bit more planning. I have a synopsis (though it very well may change once I start writing) and I'm working on character sketches right now. I even have a working title: The Future is Past. I can't wait to start writing it.
So every year on October 1, the folks who run NaNo take down the website, clear out the forums, update the site, then relaunch it to much fanfare. This year they took it down in the afternoon. We NaNo-ers waiting with baited breath. At 10:00PM central time, they updated their twitter feed saying the site should be back up in an hour. I was tired, wanted to go to bed, but was more excited for NaNo, so stayed up. 11:00 went by, no new site. At 11:30, I finally gave in to sleep. I had a dream that night I woke up the next morning and the site still wasn't back up! First thing I did when my alarm went off was grab my trusty iPhone off the bedside table and pull up the site. A sigh of relief accompanied the discovery that it was, in fact, relaunched. So I've since been chatting with other NaNo-ers and joined a couple of swaps.
The first swap I joined is where you get paired up with one other person, and you swap goodies, no more than $20 in value. What must you have to write? Candy? Stickers? Funky pens? Trade lists, and make a new NaNo friend in the process. I'll probably go shopping for my buddy this weekend.
The second one is a music swap. You get paired with 3 other random people, and you make a CD of 18 (if music CD) or 50 (if data CD - mine will be data) of your favorite songs for writing. I love finding new music, and sharing some of my more obscure tastes with others, so I joined 2 swap groups (the max). I can't wait to get my 6 CDs and discover new music.
So why is NaNo so exciting? It's the challenge of writing so many words in a month while holding down a job and managing a household. It's the fun of meeting new people, online and in real life. The fun of gather with the "real" people at weekly write-ins, talking about your stories, commiserating about writer's block or the monkey wrench your main character just threw into your plot. It's the slap-happiness that accompanies nights of little sleep while your story carries you through to the wee hours of the morning on an intense writer's high, or at the end of the month when you struggle to get those last few thousand words (though I haven't experienced the latter.) It's the joy of meeting up with the NaNo folks from last year, who you haven't seen since the TGIO party in December (Thank God It's Over) in October to drink coffee and talk about your plans for this year's novel. And of course the fun and celebration of victories and defeats at said TGIO party the first week of December.
The first NaNo even this year is this Saturday when some of us will meet and drink coffee and discuss our plans. I can't wait! The official pre-planning party is Oct. 24, when I will sadly be out of town. Sadly, because I'll miss the party, but happily because I'll be on my writer's retreat, a much needed weekend getaway with my writing group.
So yes, for me, NaNo is better than Christmas.
And now you wonder, why the heck did she put workshops in the title of this post? Because this month, in addition to preparing for NaNo, I'm taking an online Urban Fantasy workshop. I don't have much to report about it just yet as we've only had 1 lesson, but it's taught by Jeanne C. Stein, who write the Anna Strong vampire series. I've only read the first book, but it was fantastic, and I have the second sitting on my desk waiting for the time to pick up.
I'm also taking a cake decorating class every Tuesday this month. It's a very packed month for me, and November will be full of writing, writing, and more writing.
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