FROM THE RIVER BANK…An Occasional Newsletter
By Kay Jennings
First, I want to welcome all the new subscribers to my newsletter. There are only two rules for this newsletter: Only write when I have something to say, and don’t be boring. Topics are all over the map, and generally about whatever is on my mind. Today’s topic is about the writing process, but that’s unusual. The next newsletter will be about killing moles, but I didn’t think that was a particularly nice topic to welcome my new subscribers.
NaNoWriMo stands for “National November Writing Month”. It’s a national writing “contest” that has become quite popular, and is now international in scope. The contest is with yourself to see if you can write 50,000 words on your work in progress between November 1 – 30. I’ve been tempted to participate in past years, but I’ve never been at the right place in my work.
This year, I had just published Midnight Beach, book 2 in my mystery series, and was beginning to tinker with book 3 when November rolled around. I was mourning the end of gardening season here in Oregon, and knew it was time to make myself stay indoors with my butt in my writing chair as the rains came down.
I had the idea for book 3, and knew it was the best story yet in my series, and I also was spurred on to join NaNoWriMo by some of the writing organizations I belong to, particularly Sisters In Crime. SINC is a national writing organization for mystery, suspense, and thriller writers, and I belong to the local chapter. They urged members to join in NaNo, and started a thread on our Facebook page where we could post our daily word counts and share in the experience.
So, here I sit on December 1. Did I make the 50,000 word goal? No, I did not. Not even close. I’m a competitive person by nature, so it was a bit of a blow to not meet the challenge when others did. But I do have 20,000 more words on book 3 than I did on November 1. And they are good words, not garbage thrown in just to get the word count.
The idea behind NaNo is to just keep writing forward. Don’t go back and review what you wrote yesterday, don’t edit as you go along, and don’t research when the story throws something at you (how do walkie-talkies work, for instance) – just keep writing and see where your story takes you. I see the beauty in the approach, but it doesn’t suit my writing personality, and it didn’t suit this particular work in progress.
Book 3 has to accomplish several things to move my series forward, and it needs to be more structured than just writing a stand-alone book. Plus, this one is more complicated than my first two books, with three distinct storylines: a major natural disaster, a decades-old murder, and a relationship. All three stories need to tie together in the end, and so plotting this book is more important than in my first two.
Having said all that, I still loved being a part of NaNo. It was motivating at the beginning of the day, knowing that I had to post my word count for fellow authors to see. It was clear from November 1 that many writers were going to accomplish the goal…and that many more would not. My favorite post was from a writer yesterday morning (November 30) who wrote “I’m starting now!”
Best of all was the camaraderie with other writers. The daily posts were inspiring, often hilarious, sometimes tragic, and highly motivational. Writing is a lonely pursuit, and this challenge brought us together from all across the globe for thirty days. Priceless.
And, the national president of SINC wrote 14,000 words and noted that without the challenge, it would have been 0 this month. So, at least I beat her.