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Friday, March 22, 2013

NaNoWriMo summer camp

There is a wonderful, insane site called NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. The original month is November, but they have Summer Camps in April and July. During the course of a month, the goal is to turn out a 50K-word rough draft of a novel. This boils down to 1,667 words per day. Every day for 30 days. For those who think this is too much, it can take as little as 2 hours a day. For those who think that's too short for a novel, well, The Great Gatsby is 50K words, and there are other examples.

In November 2011 I attempted it, but that was the month that I lost my job. I spent the month finding and going on interviews, 12 total. Didn't get a job, and gave up on NaNoWriMo after the second week. Last year I had just started my new job and was still getting my strength back from cancer, so I didn't even think of trying. Still, got a good start on a rough draft in 2011 - my steampunk novel, Annie's Doomsday Engine, which I'm currently working on. I'm going to pause on it for April and do Summer Camp. I have chapters three and four nearly ready for my writing group, and that will get me through.

Why would anyone do anything that crazy? Well, here are my reasons: Personal challenge, fun, and knocking loose more plots. I have around 40 ideas that I think are viable. For some of them, I have a bit of plot, or I know where I want it to go. For most of them, all I have is the characters and the opening situation. Can't think of a plot to save my life. Had a couple ideas like that since high school! Plus, I'm a very slow rough drafter.

So, I'm taking one of those that I have the characters and the opening situation, and seeing if this 30-day rollercoaster of writing can kick something loose. My April project will be called Phoenix Flying, the sequel to my self-published Phoenix Hatching. Will I do this again for July and November? It'll depend on how I do for this one. I'd like to crank out rough drafts for three ideas this year, and spend next year rewriting. However, November's problematic for me. Besides Thanksgiving, which always involves company and/or traveling, my birthday and my Mom's birthday are in November. More traveling and/or company, and maybe parties. So we'll see.

I'm pushing 60, and can't count on continued good health. I would like to get as many of my ideas as possible turned into full novels before I die, even if I have to self-publish the lot. I have two more steampunk ideas, both involving the Secret Service in 1880. I have the characters and the openings. These could possibly be my projects for the next two NaNoWriMos, causing me to spend next year immersed in steampunk. I can think of lots worse ways to spend a year.