Post by Karen Charlton
If it’s been a little quiet here of late, it’s because I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo, a challenge to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. Despite being a non-fiction nut, I began NaNo with an idea for a young adult novel that’s been swimming around my head for a few years, a long piece of fiction. I decided on 28th October that I’d give it a crack and by the morning of November 2 I retired that draft after realising I was creating characters who just wanted to stare at each other and mouth breathe.
If you take a look at my bookshelves, they are heaving with non-fiction books. I don’t actually read much fiction, unless I am on holiday or at a loose end. So, rather than squander this month of November I’ve been working on a non-fiction draft. Part pop-culture treatise, part-memoir, part-history, part whatever it needs to be in order to get to the truth at the heart of the topic.
Instead of focusing on the not insignificant word count, NaNo for this little duck has been about giving myself permission to show up to the page and say what I want to say, in whatever form seems appropriate. I’ve literally spent years reading in and around this particular topic but only in signing up for NaNo have I fully embraced the opportunity to explore it. Sure, I’ve had excuses not to try, they probably sound a lot like everyone else’s; I’ve got 3 young kids, we’re building a house, my husband works long hours, there’s been long weekends and excursions and tonsillitis and tantrums. NaNo cuts through the noise and makes you accountable to those ideas that roll around your head, but that rarely get to see the light of day.
While I’m hopeful for the bare bones of a first draft by the end of the month, I’m more interested in the act of writing a long piece. I’m keen to discover what it is this story really wants to say. I’m now up to 16,500 words and it’s exhilarating to be this high up the mountain. I’ve never been this far before.
Are you NaNo-ing this year? Have you attempted it before? What would your advice be to a newbie NaNo-er?