Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 Part One

Five years ago, on a warm November Sunday that now seems part of another life, I put my pen to a fresh pad of paper, fifty blank sheets, and jotted the first sentence of my novel Lawrence, an homage I'd always wanted to write to one of my favorite movies of all time, Otto Preminger's brilliant film noir Laura.  I didn't know what I was in for exactly, other than that a publisher had mentioned interest in the book even before word one was written, and that I'd hitched myself to the runaway horse that is National Novel Writing Month. Every First of November dating back to 1999, untold flocks of writers delve into their creativity, hopeful that by the Thirtieth, they will have completed 50,000 words.  It's the kind of pressure and a commitment that may seem insurmountable. Not all make it to the finish line.  Far fewer than those that do go on to sell their novels (there's a great debate about quality among all that quantity, and plenty of chatter about lit agents cringing soon after the end of November rolls around). Regardless of the yay-sayers and nay-sayers, I gave it a whirl, And the whirlwind of that month was unforgettable.

(November 1, 2014 -- deep in Chapter One)
Over the course of thirty days, I belted out the entire first draft of Lawrence, along with a novella, a short screenplay, and two short stories. It's possible that November 2009 may be the most productive single month of my literary life.  I completed my novel not only on time but early, and throughout could not wait to return to the world of a New York socialite targeted for murder, the hardened cop who works to save him, and the delicious mystery that flowed from my psyche through my pen and onto the pages, which flew off the pad at a record speed.

With three friends of my way-cool local writers' group (and several from my extended circle), I decided to give NaNoWriMo another go in 2014, helped along by a literary agent who approached me about doing a M/M-themed fantasy novel (a sort of 'Gay of Thrones', if you will).  At first, I was hesitant; I'd already decided over the summer to work on a project called Different.  Given the deadline imposed by the agent, I did do something different after all -- over a day spent jotting down notes, I crafted a solid and engaging (I hope!) story called Kingdoms Be Damned. I committed to the novel with the agent, more so with the characters and the exciting, danger-fraught world they inhabit.  As the first of the month approached, I worked to clear the desk and then, this past Saturday (a morning far less balmy and sunny than its predecessor in 2009 -- in fact, we woke to the first trace of winter's snow!), I uncapped my pen, opened a fresh pad of paper, and dove in.

(NaNo Swag Bags -- break open in case of emergency!)
November 2009 was marked by lots of icy Diet Pepsi, sipped at numerous venues, like the town library where we used to live and the cozy comfort of the A & E Roastery, where the very first write-in kick-off to that year's literary road race was held.  Public write-ins, in which friends and strangers gather at destinations announced via social media, are a NaNo standard, and normally great motivation to put in one's words.  No such events exist up here in the North Country, so to honor the fun, I decided to create several for our circle of talented friends.  The first started in my living room on November 1, complete with gourmet hot chocolate (courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa), 'emergency' Swag Bags filled with notebooks, pens, Buffy bookmarks, and chocolate, pastry, and, of course, cold Diet Pepsi. I drank a lot of it way-back-then when, that month, we also all suffered from the ravages of the swine version of the flu.  No H1N1 this year, I hope.

(Second Write-in at the Berlin Public Library, courtesy
of Dan Szcezesny)
Our second official group write-in took place on Tuesday, the Third at our town library.  It's a beautiful building with the perfect tables for writing adventures set in far away lands, an amazing fireplace, and books that rise up, up, all the way to the distant ceiling and require those huge rolling ladders to access.  Good pals, the dynamic Judi Calhoun and Dan Szcezesny, who just got courted to write for The Huffington Post, joined me among the stacks for several productive hours. We wrote and boosted our word count despite the presence of a loquacious Marine recruiter at the table beside the one where we were camped with our novels. It was another unforgettable, fun time as we forged forward in our respective new adventures.  Later, we enjoyed a big dinner at home and a wonderful writers' group meeting.

A week into NaNoWriMo 2014, and this Wrimo (as we're lovingly called) has maintained a very healthy 2,500 daily word count -- to reach the 50K goal, one is expected to write 1,667.  I'm only 500 shy of reaching 17,500, and the exciting conclusion to Chapter 7.  At this rate, as before, I'll finish my first draft of Kingdoms a full ten days before the end of November.  Flus, colds, and the many horrors from the fantasy land within my novel willing, of course!

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