November 1st, 2006

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NaNoWriMo and Me

I'm doing something that I never thought I'd do; in fact, it's something that I spoke out against my doing last year.

I have decided to attempt NaNoWriMo.

For those of you reading who don't know what that means, NaNoWriMo is a challenge given every year for anyone who wants to sign up, to write a "novel," which in this case means a piece of fiction at least 50,000 words long, in the space of a month.

Last year, I noted that I am not naturally a fast writer, and so a challenge like NaNoWriMo would be anathema to me. And so while I wished others luck with it, I said that I myself would decline from participating.

This year I have changed my mind. Which leads of course to the obvious question: why?

Well, for a while now, I haven't been writing as much as I used to. Whether it's because I spent a year working on that novel (which, before you ask, is still in submission) or because I've been working full-time again, I have found that my fiction writing has fallen somewhat by the wayside. There was a time when gnomi and I planned every weeknight around making sure we each wrote 500 words of fiction no matter what. For the past six months, my fiction writing has instead come in fits and bursts, and I've not followed my own advice to all writers: write every day. It seems to me that I need to do something to jar the writing self into action again, and taking the NaNoWriMo challenge is as good a catalyst as any.

Another reason for me to do this project is because I still haven't managed to place a novel with a publisher. Nomi reminded me that I wrote quite a lot of unpublishable short stories before I managed to write one that sold. Perhaps I need to do the same thing when it comes to novels. So far I've only written two. If, let's say, I need to write eight more before something "clicks," whatever that something is...well, the sooner I get those novels written, the better.

Finally, doing this challenge allows me to stretch my writing muscles in a way that I haven't yet done. Besides getting the practice of writing quickly, I mean. I've decided that for NaNoWriMo, I'm going to eschew my usual genre of science fiction. Instead, I'm working on a novel that will turn into either a political thriller or political satire. I don't want to say much more, but I will note that the idea comes from having seen the way this country has chipped away at our civil liberties in the name of security. I've got something I want to say about that, and this novel is the manner in which I want to say it.

Getting a bit more personal, I contemplated not posting about this and keeping it a secret until I was done. Again, you might ask why. Honestly, it's because I'm not the kind of guy who likes to put his possible failures out in front for all the world to see. I'm not sure if I'll succeed, and unlike many braver souls, I'm not comfortable sharing every part of my writing life with the world. (Some of you know I'm talking about you, and bless you for your willingness to be so open with the world.)

But on the other hand...well, the point of NaNoWriMo is to be part of a community of people all striving towards the same goal of writing 50,000 words of fiction in the space of a month. So it seems senseless to me to take on this challenge and then deny myself the benefits of the larger community. To that end, I share here with everyone that I am using the handle mabfan for this project, same as my LiveJournal username. If you're doing NaNoWriMo as well, by all means please tell me your handle, and I'll add you to my buddy list. And for any and all who are interested, here are the links to my profile and progress pages:

My Author Profile

NaNoWriMo Progress for mabfan

Today's wordcount: 2086. A good start.

Copyright © Michael A. Burstein