As of the writing of this inaugural entry, November is just two days away. For most of the sane population, November means turkey and the beginning of the Christmas season. But for the writers among us, it means NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Just as some people run marathons, we WriMos write for the entire month of November. The goal is to write a 50K word (approx. 175 pages) novel in the span of 30 days, averaging out to 1,667 words per day. You are considered a “winner” if you reach the 50K word mark whether your book is finished or not. Last year was my first attempt and I’m very proud to say that I came home a winner. I hit 50K words on November 18thand finished out the month with a grand total of 60,666 words.
Last year, I was horribly unprepared. I had only decided to participate a week before it began and I had to flip through my Moleskine notebook of ideas to find a suitable idea. I settled on one I titled “A Return to War,” the direct sequel to “War of the Worlds” by H. G. Wells. The book, set in a futuristic 1960s, showed how the world had been artificially advanced by the Martian technology left after the failed invasion in 1890s England. As a result, the United Kingdom quickly took over the globe, aided by technology light-years ahead of anything else on the planet. But unbeknownst to them, the Martians were launching another attack on the blue world, utilizing far more developed technology than the previous invasion.
Though complex, the story seemed to flow fully formed from my brain to my fingertips to the keyboard. I was thrilled and amazed and more than a little proud with the way the story seemed to write itself, word after word, page after page. I updated my word count daily, sometimes hourly. I seemed unstoppable. Until December 1st. Though I exceeded the winning word count, by the end of November, I still only had half a book. But the rush of having a deadline and a daily required word count receded the moment the clock struck midnight on the first of December, and with it went my intense drive. I’m sad to say, my book sits unfinished at this very moment, a reminder to me that motivation is a huge factor in writing. When I had a word count I absolutely had to meet in order to make 50K, the words flowed almost faster than I could type them. But the moment that pressure was off, I no longer felt that same intense drive to produce. I petered out, stumbled, and finally stopped moving altogether.
This year, I’m doing something extremely unorthodox. For the last few months, I have been writing a novel based on a dream I had over the summer. The more I thought about the story, the more I began to realize that it was merely the beginning of something even bigger. What started as a single scene in a short story evolved into a novel, which in turn became a trilogy. The first book of what I call the Hand Trilogy, “Hand of Fate,” is nowhere near finished. I’m 90+ pages into the first draft. But despite this, I’ve decided to write the sequel, “Hand of Fate,” for NaNoWriMo. Maybe I’m crazy, but I feel strangely good about my decision. I knew I didn’t want to lose my steam and step away from this series for a month with something else and I definitely knew the first book wouldn’t be finished before the November 1st deadline. So the only option open to me was setting the first book aside and writing the sequel before it was even finished. I have no idea how or even if this is going to work, but I’ll never know if I don’t try. Is it possible I’ll wake up December 1st with half a book and no drive to finish? It is, though I sincerely hope that isn’t the case. I care more about this series than anything I’ve ever written. I think having the first book waiting for me will help me maintain my focus on the series. I have a good feeling about this year. I may not finish my book by the end of NaNoWriMo, but I believe I’ll be well on my way to finishing two of the three books of my trilogy by the end of the year. And that idea, that I could dream something up in July and have two-thirds of a trilogy finished by the end of December, excites me more than words can say. Of all my projects to date, this one feels the most publishable. It makes me feel like a real writer, not just a guy with a hobby.
I may be putting too much pressure on this year’s NaNoWriMo, but I think that, if I can do what I did last year and go even further, I could self-publish within the next year. And who knows what could happen from there? I could get picked up by a proper publisher and be a real professional writer. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but for the first time, I’m seeing a clear path into my future. And NaNoWriMo 2012 is the first step.