Every October I get this itch. It starts in my fingers and moves along my hands before taking over my entire body. It's not an allergy, it's excitement. The smell of turning leaves, crisp air and roasting foods signal the start of prep work for NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month.
Yes, I am one of those crazy people dedicated to writing at least 50,000 words, turning thoughts into a story with characters, ideals and a lesson buried in the depths of the multitude of sentences that cover at least 200 pages when I am done. I've known about NaNoWriMo for years. I probably heard of it first in 2000 or so, when the first website was posted. I may have even learned about it at a party in San Francisco from someone who had participated the year before. Being someone who had always wanted to write a novel it intrigued me, but intrigue is one thing and actual participation is another.
It took at least seven years for me to get the guts, the story and the character I wanted to experiment with during a crazy month of nuts. My son was just one, I was just going back to work after taking his first year off and although I would be working from home, it was still work. So what did I do? I took this huge bite off of something and I couldn't chew it. Whoops. It took me another year to finish the book - so in NaNoWriMo 2008 I actually finished my first novel. Just over 50,000 words of glory and I was hooked.
2009 and 2010 saw me write over 107,000 words of a single book. No, that's not how it's supposed to be done but I tend to be a NaNo Rebel and I can live with that. You see, my books are books I actually want to see on a shelf somewhere. Nicely edited and with a cover (perhaps with one by my good friend Starla at Designed by Starla), a blurb and an audience. To make that happen I need a book that is longer than 50,000. For some reason novels start at 75,000 words these days, not 50,000. But that's OK. 50,000 words is a feat no matter what.
And it's that feat as well as the camaraderie and the joy of discovering a new world with new characters that makes November so joyous for me. It's hard, it's heart wrenching at times and yet NaNoWriMo is a time of great joy. I get to read a book before anyone else - I know a story no one else knows yet and I know whether that story is good or not great and whether or not I will share that story with the world one day.
But NaNoWriMo is more than that as well. I have met some amazing people through NaNoWriMo, people I never would have met without NaNoWriMo and that would have been a tragedy. These are other people who, like me, have the capacity to create amazing worlds in their mind. They have the skills to bring their dreams to the front of their minds and craft them into words, sentences and paragraphs that other people will find interesting. Whether they write literary fiction, historical romance, erotica, SciFi/Fantasy or Chit Lit these people can create stories. That ability is truly a magical gift - the gift of creation, something not everyone has the chance to explore.
So, if you've ever had an itch that starts in your fingers, moves to your hands then your arms and then your entire body or met a character who lives in your mind and is knocking on the door to get out so others can meet them as well check out NaNoWriMo (http://www.nanowrimo.org). Sign up, check out the forums, go to a Kick Off Party but mostly just prep your music list and at midnight on November 1 start to write as you have never written before.
Who knows, maybe you'll meet some pretty interesting characters - both on the page and off.