Saturday, November 29, 2008

Can I Write a Novel in a Month? NaNoWriMo

After writing professionally from the age of 21 to 60 I stopped. I was burned out. I decided to go back to my original love – painting --and started taking classes at the Worcester Art Museum. It’s worked out pretty well in the ensuing seven years. I sold some paintings and participated in several shows this year.

Recently I saw that there was a class at the Worcester Art Museum based on the now world-wide project called NaNoWriMo for “National Novel Writing Month,” started some ten years ago by Chris Baty. The point is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. That averages out to 1,667 words a day. It was being taught at WAM by Laurel King.

I signed up, thinking it might get me going on writing again. We (17 students in the night class) meet every Wednesday to compare notes. Laurel brings coffee and snacks and gives us writing exercises, which are a lot of fun. One of my favorites in the first class was to draw a picture of our “inner editor” and then fold it up and put it in a jar which she keeps until the end of the month. That means that we must not edit or read what we have written or try to fix the writing – just keep spewing out words

Naturally this is difficult, or maybe I should say impossible for someone who writes professionally. I drew my inner editor as an old lady with a big nose who says things like: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.” That’s what I’m doing today – typing desperately.

My idea was to write a novel that is sort of ”Chick Lit” for women over sixty. Should I call it "Crone Lit"? (By the way, the word “crone” in my blog title has raised so much controversy among friends and readers that I will have to devote at least one blog to “what is the meaning of ‘crone’?” But that will happen in a month when I’m not supposed to be writing 1,667 words a day on a novel.)

Naturally I fell behind on my word quota because November is a month of things like Thanksgiving. Yesterday I didn’t write a word on the computer but had great fun shopping with daughters Eleni and Marina on Black Friday and also trying to sell copies of my photo book “The Secret Life of Greek Cats” at a local Borders.

I woke up this morning and realized that my word count so far (you post it every day on the site at is only 45,268 and that I have to write nearly 5,000 words by TOMORROW.

Our class will meet for the last time on Dec. 3 to celebrate the winners with food and revelry. Never mind what they wrote, if they wrote 50,000 words of anything they are WINNERS.

It’s not looking so good for me. And to make things worse, most of my classmates have already finished. Laurel said that of the international NaNoWriMo participants last year (there were more than 100,000 would-be novelists!) only 17 per cent finished but that 88 per cent of the students in her classes did finish.

To make matters worse, if you wait till the last day to try to submit your manuscript for counting and validating (a computer program does it) then you may find the site too choked up to count you. I just looked and it’s already barely working.

Will I be a winner or a loser by tomorrow (Sunday) midnight? Tune in tomorrow.

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