Oh, in case you’re wondering what on earth this NaNoWriMo thing is: it’s a form of insanity. A yearly reoccurrence of a particular fit of insanity, in fact. Thousands of people from all over the world sign up to write a novel in one month. That’s right: a Novel. In One Month. To be precise, in the thirty days of November. And it’s got to be 50,000 words long.
Now why, do you ask, would anybody do this? Well, there are a number of reasons. And right off the bat, no, you don’t win anything; it’s not a contest with anyone but yourself. Well, okay, you can get “prizes” – such as a 50% discount coupon for world’s greatest writing software, Scrivener. Or a couple of free print copies of your book from CreateSpace (for a given value of “free” – you’re still paying for shipping & handling, which is considerably more expensive than the printing itself). But really, the only thing you “win” when you “win Nano” (yes, us Wrimos do talk in those terms) is that you’ve mastered a challenge. And you have a book, a whole novel, that you wrote all by yourself. That’s the biggest, most overwhelming reason to participate in this novemberly fit of mass insanity.
There are others: it’s FUN. Honestly, it is. No, I’m not one of those people who think fun consists of poking myself in the eye with a pointed stick; my idea of entertainment isn’t that warped. It really is fun to go on this website, and talk to all those other crazy Wrimos out there who think it’s a good idea to try to hammer out a full-length novel in just thirty days. Also, the NaNoWriMo people, or The Office of Letters and Light, are funny. The Nano Logo is a viking helmet – from all I can gather, just because. I mean, what’s not to like? (No, I don’t have a viking helmet for writing my books. Although I was kind of tempted to get one when we saw an exhibit on Vikings at the Royal BC Museum in the summer. They had real steel ones, only around $300… but they didn’t have the horns, which are apparently not authentic. For those, you’d have to get one of those kiddie plastic ones. Anyway – sorry, where were we?) So, yes, if you’re one of those people who’s “always wanted to write a book” (I wasn’t. But that’s another story for another day), this is the perfect time for it.
So, all that to say: of course I signed up for NaNoWriMo again! I can’t not. But – here’s the snag. It’s the third of November already, and I’ve written, uh, about 600 words. In case you’re wondering, writing 50,000 words in 30 days means you have to get down an average of 1667 words per day (every third day you can slack off, and only do 1666). So, as of right now, I’m about 4400 words behind on my word count. I’ve done other stuff – really, I did! I plotted. And I built characters – I trawled Google Images, and found the perfect pictures of red-headed children and gave them names, so now they look at me from the right side of the split window in Scrivener and inspire me to write about them. And then I looked at the news about the latest Canadian public scandal, and last week’s local violent crime, which probably wasn’t such a good idea as those things really depress me. I went on Facebook (yeah, well…). And I found a hack online to solve the extremely irritating issue of the keyboard layout on my new computer – the tiny left shift key was driving me crazy. It’s fixed now.
You see? I’ve done lots of stuff. Just not cranked out proper NaNoWriMo word count. And I was starting to feel stressed about it, because, well, it’s NaNo! Must Have Word Count! But then, actually – no, I don’t have to have word count. What I must have is fun. And I must do writing. But even choosing names for fictional red-headed toddlers is part of writing. I’m not going to rush through this in the name of NaNo badges, lovely though those are. I think this year, I’ll have “won” NaNo if I’ve written something I like. If I made progress on the latest story about Catriona (yes, there’s sequels). And above all, if I’ve enjoyed myself doing so. Because that’s really what NaNoWriMo is all about – the joy of writing. And if I make my 50k, so much the better; but if not, whatever.
Life, the Universe, and NaNoWriMo. If you sign up, do find me on the site and be my buddy – I’m amo1967.