Another detour into the realm of guest posts today! My friend Kira is not (yet) a crafter, though she has shown some interest in crocheted amigurumi and so I think it’s only a matter of time. However, Kira is participating in NaNoWriMo this year, and since NaBloPoMo is a kind of spin off of NaNoWriMo, and I know a lot of you have talked about writing, I thought it would be great to hear a different kind of voice here on the blog.
Still need some knitting content? Okay, how about this—I’m starting to believe I may, in fact, be a wizard, because I am nearly done with the body of my Stonecutter’s Cardigan. All I have to do is finish knitting the back. I’m not even sure how that happened.
Anyway, read on for Kira’s experience with writing novels (yes, plural!) and follow her on Twitter at @ceredonia for NaNo updates and general tomfoolery!
Hello, readers! You wanted to know a little bit about NaNoWriMo, right? I’m psychic, so I already knew that (also, Amy told me to write about it).
Firstly, a bit about myself. I’ve been writing since junior high, when I used to write what’s called “fanfiction,” taking characters from existing properties and putting them in my own stories. I fully advocate writing fanfiction because it’s a great way to get started in writing—not having to spend time creating fully original characters gives you time to just have fun and embrace your creative side. These days I co-own a local video store with my dad, The Village Vidiot: 35+ years of being in business and we carry everything from new releases to old classics, including VHS tapes, spanning thousands of titles. I have so many stories about our adventures in movie rentals, but that’s a topic for another blog. I’m also married to my high school sweetheart, going on 13 years together now, but again, that’s some stories for another blog.
NaNoWriMo is just shorthand for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November. It’s a 30 day challenge to write a 50,000 word novel. You can write whatever you want, as long as you get that word count up to 50,000 by the 30th—the daily goal is 1,667 words. Don’t think that sounds like fun? Well, it really is, believe it or not! Now, there’s a whole history behind it about an awesome guy named Chris Baty who started it, but you can read all that on the NaNo site because I don’t have the time to get into all that.
Last year I came in late, because a friend of mine who’s been participating for seven years convinced me to try it. I jumped in on the 20th and decided to write an entire novel in ten days. And guess what? I did it in eight. I actually finished on the 28th of November with two whole days to spare. My final product had about 60,000 words, which is too short for a young adult novel, which is technically the genre it belongs in (a standard YA novel runs anywhere from 80k-125k words), but I didn’t care. It was still a personal achievement.
Now, this wasn’t a brilliant book by any means—it’s a standard romantic comedy/drama, and probably had every cliché ever in it somewhere. I actually self-published it earlier this year (using Createspace, a great site), mostly just for myself—but it was a start, and got me interested in writing more original works. Back in February/March I wrote another original novel and self-published it, even commissioning custom artwork. Again, it’s nothing ground-breaking (it’s just a [much better] re-write of a story I wrote in high school), but I completed it with 74,000 words, actually making it long enough to be considered a real book!
I decided to tackle NaNo again this year because I had so much fun in my short sprint to the finish in 2011. This year, however, I’m trying a different tactic. I chose 30 songs and am writing 30 short stories inspired by them. Some are literal interpretations, while some are only tangentially related. Each story is averaging about 2,500 words, which is about 4 pages typed. I’m finding it to be a lot of fun and much easier for me, because by no means am I a planner—I write by the seat of my pants and just go with it, so short stories are much more fun for me to write. I plan on self-publishing a collection once all the editing is done, though I’ve also been posting them online on my Tumblr for anyone to read.
As of writing this I’m 17 stories down and have 13 more to go, putting me about 5 ahead of my personal ‘1 story a day’ goal. It takes me anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours to get an entire story out, and some have been more upbeat while others have been. . . well, depressing or slightly twisted. Just like me! So if you’ve ever wanted to write but haven’t had the courage, I highly recommend doing your own NaNoWriMo, even if it’s not during the official month. Do it in February! Do it in June! Use original ideas or write fanfiction, it doesn’t matter! Just get out there and write, no matter what your brain tries to do to stop you. Get in front of that computer or pad of paper and go for it. Let your ideas run wild, and you too can write an entire novel in a month. It may not be the best (full disclosure: it won’t be), but it’s a start.
And a start is all you need.
Tangent: If you want to watch a fantastic movie about writing, please find “Ruby Sparks.” It’s a brilliant movie starring Paul Dano, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Official NaNoWriMo site: www.nanowrimo.org
My Tumblr (for NaNo stories): ceredonia.tumblr.com
My Twitter (for randomness): twitter.com/ceredonia
My NaNo profile: www.nanowrimo.org/en/participants/ceredonia
My Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/Kira-Dunn