About a year ago I was walking down the yellow brick road. –Wait. That’s not right. That’s the intro to the story of the Tin Man…
About a year ago, I was back where I’ve been for as long as I can remember. At a stage in my life when I had this great idea for a book. I wrote a handful of pages, shared it with my husband who proclaimed it all kinds of amazing, and then…nothing. I stopped writing. I was stuck. The words just didn’t flow.
I must have complained to my sister about this situation and as usual, she came through in an amazing way. She told me about NaNoWriMo. To understand the complexities of this story, you have to know that she told me about NaNo via text message. Since we live a few thousand miles and a four hour time difference away from each other, texting is the best way to communicate. Who am I kidding? My kids live in the same house I do and when it’s time to call them for dinner, texting is still the best way to communicate. “Time 4 dnr” is so much easier than yelling “Time for dinner” to the young’uns who live one flight of stairs above my head.
Anyway, when I got my sister’s text, I was perplexed. It had to be auto correct doing it’s fancy thing and acting smarter than the rest of us. Stupid autocorrect. But it wasn’t. She explained to me how NaNo is National Novel Writing Month. I was floored. People can write a novel in a month? How is that even possible? I’d had the main character and idea for this novel of mine in my head since I was 8 years old and I couldn’t eke out more than a few pages.
So, I did what any upstanding citizen of this great nation would do. I googled it.
It turns out, my sister was right (as usual). People can actually write a novel in a month. And not just some silly story that is filled with typos and other grammatical errors that is only seen by their immediate family who secretly laugh and point out the typos while telling their family member what a great story it is.
If you can’t get that image in your head, think FRIENDS, season 1, episode 11. Chandler’s mother, Mrs. Bing comes to visit. She’s a famous romance author and Rachel tells her about her interest in writing. Mrs. Bing gives Rachel some advice on how easy it is to write a book and Rachel gives it a shot. The episode ends (I would say “spoiler alert” here, but if you haven’t seen FRIENDS, we (as in you and I) aren’t friends anyway, so you’re probably not reading this.) with all the friends laughing at Rachel’s story where she inadvertently had typed “heaving beasts” instead of “heaving breasts”. –Not much of a typist, that Ms. Green.
But seriously, great novels are written in a month. In fact, if you google “bestselling novels that were written during nanowrimo”, you’ll see this list. Of the books on this list, I’ve only heard of one of them. I know, I should read more. But how can I? I’m telling you all about NaNo!
I purchased Water for Elephants before I heard about NaNo. I’d never heard of it before, but found the title so intriguing, that I had to buy it and then zone out of everything around me so that I could read it and then proceeded to tell my husband all about it. I then proceeded to talk about it so much, that my son bought the movie for me for Xmas last year. I had no idea there was a movie about it and while I don’t typically watch the movie after having read a book (because really, the book is always better); I found the movie to be quite an accurate depiction of the novel.
And here’s the kicker. Sara Gruen wrote that book in a month! I know you’re thinking about how that’s not possible and surely she must have spent a great deal of time researching the book (she’d had to because who just knows all that stuff about circus life unless they were born in the circus) and editing the book and polishing the book and all the other things that come with a book.
Sara probably did all of those things. But she wrote the basis of this book in a single month. This same book that was on the bestseller list for more than a year. The movie starred Reese Witherspoon, people. It was that good.
So, here I am. A year after learning about NaNo. A year after having written 86,139 words on my own novel. How long did it take me to write those words? A month. One month in which I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote some more. I don't really remember what my family did that month, but mostly because I was glued to the loveseat with my laptop and my cell phone listening to Party in the U.S.A on a loop. There was something about the words in that song that inspired me to keep going.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I want to. Because it’s my blog and I can say what I want. Because NaNo is the best gift you can give to a friend or family member that’s a writer and it won’t cost you a single dime. Because it’s almost November and I’m so excited about the prospect of writing another novel that I can’t stop thinking about it. Because since I learned about NaNo a year ago, I’ve completed one novel (it’s in the almost final editing stage) and have started three more.
If you’re a writer and haven’t heard of NaNo, look it up. Join the others who live and breathe and wait for November every year. Become one of us who plan PTO from the day job during the month of November so that we can write instead of Xmas shopping. And if you’re not a writer, tell your writer friends and family about NaNo. They’ll love it.
National Novel Writing Month…the world needs your novel.