When I was at Sewanee for the writer’s conference this summer, I don’t think I told anyone that I actually drafted the book I was workshopping in the 2007 Nanowrimo – that stands for National Novel Writing Month. I guess I was worried that my esteemed friends would think that was just too bizarre.
That word – bizarre – is the right one to describe the kind of transformation that a writer can experience if they learn to stick to their guns and rack up a total of 50,000 words in one month. I was reminded of the quickly approaching marathon that’s about six weeks away (45:7:55:56 by the clock at http://www.nanowrimo.org) by a note from Chris Baty about a sale on Nanowrimo t-shirts. Unforunately, the Viking one is sold out!
Who is this Chris Baty? He’s a guy from the San Francisco area that started the whole thing in 1999. It’s a non-commercial venture – hey, they do ask if you want to make a donation but they aren’t getting rich.
The first year I participated, all I had was a title, The Terrifying Miss Bascom. Okay, so what happened to those years in between? I graduated from Hopkins in spring of 2007 and wrote my little memoir of being in the program that summer. In the fall, I did the Nanowrimo and not much else. I still hadn’t published any short stories so I thought I should seriously try to place some of my babies in their literary homes. This took me a while since responses are so slow and I did rewrites every time one came back with a reject letter.
By the time I’d had a few stories placed and one selected for an anthology, November was quickly approaching. I still hadn’t revised Miss Bascom, but I had been thinking about the book.
YA sounded like fun for Nanowrimo and an agent at a conference said that a story with knights or pirates would be popular. My youngest chose knights and there was this picture of the Bromo Seltzer tower in downtown Baltimore that I always thought looked like a castle turret. I didn’t have an outline but I started writing my alternate universe story, Sir Gawain, on November 1st and the story took on a life of its own. A couple of my SCBWI friends are reading that for me now. Did a follow-up to Sir Gawain in 2009 and last year I just felt like I shouldn’t shouldn’t start another book until I edited the others. So, most of this past year, I’ve been editing Miss Bascom and plan on having this last revision done by November 1.
Will I do it this year? I’m planning on it if I can get this other near future idea going in my head. I’ve been reading a lot of Margaret Atwood lately and think I would like to submit something for her workshop in Key West but we’ll have to see how it goes. I always have another idea for another book in the Sir Gawain series. Would like to have both of the books I’ve been editing this year out to agents soon though.
If you’re curious about Nanowrimo, take a look at the website in a week or so. The site doesn’t seem to be working that well today.