Why I Am Skipping NaNoWriMo This Year

the tadpole galaxy
Arp 188 and the Tadpole’s Tail;
Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA

First Attempt

I first attempted to complete a NaNoWriMO manuscript back in 2008. I came close to making the 50,000 word minimum set forth by the non-profit organization, as being an “official” novel, but ultimately, I fell short by 5,000 words. Besides making me very tired, the international coordinated event did inspire me onward and upwards as a writer. The most profound result was a collection of a half dozen or so short stories that I expanded into a full-length novel; which according to most industry professionals ranges from 65,000 to over a 100,000 words. In the real world 50,000 word novels are rare, though definitely not non-existent.

So by spring of 2009 I had my first completed novel. Without delay I went about the exciting task of trying to hook an agent for the completed manuscript. The result was disappointing to say the least, but still, I had completed the task to the point where I had a finished manuscript that could be shown to prospective readers and buyers. I was even successful in obtaining one reading by an insider in the publishing industry, who gave me lots of good feedback, but no sales.

Flooding The Market

Namowrimo has been amazingly successful. After a modest beginning in July 1999 with only 21 writers, the annual writing event has seen a steady increase in participants. Last year (2011) saw approximately a quarter million perspective novelists up from 200,000 in 2010. Of those 250,000, just over 36,000 were declared winners, which means they were able to put together 50,000 coherent words in a period of 720 hours. No wonder it is becoming more and more common for literary agents to close their doors during the month of December. The submission rate from unpublished Namowrimo authors must be astronomical.

This Year

This year I am rewriting the novel that I began in 2009. It has been sitting in a drawer (actually stored on a hard drive is closer to the truth) since then and I figure it is well nigh time to bite the bullet and get a respectable first draft completed. I just started the project yesterday and have yet to reach even a thousand words. Even so,  I feel very good about spending this November and beyond in the rewriting mode.

The Red Spider Planetary Nebula
The Red Spider Planetary Nebula
by Carlos Milovic, Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA

NaNoWriMo Continues

sombrero galaxy
Sombrero Galaxy in Infrared, Credit: R. Kennicutt (Steward Obs.) et al., SSC, JPL, Caltech, NASA

Today I managed to find a little time to continue working    on a novel-length piece of fiction, even though the deadline that I set for myself during November, when NaNoWriMo (that stands for National Novel Writing Month) was going strong has long since past.

To qualify for Na NoWri Mo certification, one needs to complete 50,000 (hopefully coherent) words within the 30 day period, we call November. I barely managed 10,000 during last month, but it looks like I might reach 25,000 by the first of the year. Not the fastest pace in the world, but I do kind of like the way the story is developing.

This is my second attempt with this organization. Last year I sat down and cranked out 40.000 words for a manuscript that still sits in a drawer, half finished. However early last year, I did manage to forge a large group of related short stories into a workable novel, which I thoroughly shopped around this past summer to no avail. Maybe this year’s effort will go better. I hope so, for I would like to think that experience amounts to something.

For those of you, who like myself are struggling through the never-never land of novel writing, you are in luck.  “TheWriter” magazine has just published a list of its most favorite literary websites and there are several that may be of help to aspiring writers, like myself. Most obvious is a site called How To Write A Novel (you have to give them credit for honesty in advertising). There first suggestion is to write one word at a time; can’t go wrong there!

Another intriguing site is Advanced Fiction Writing, which features the snowflake method. Seeing that today is the first day of winter that might be a good idea also.

Also of importance is a place called the Fiction Factor. This is an informative site that has articles in the form of an online magazine, as well as a listing of markets and contests. Looks like another good choice!

And then last but not least is a place on the internet called “Chapter One“. This website is put up by the Washington Post and it is place where you can go to read (for free) the first chapter of recently published books that have been reviewed by the Post newspaper. Be aware that there is a lot to choose from, as the Washington Post book reviewers are a busy lot.

So there you go. No need to procrastinate, the time to write is now.

house in winter
pastel drawing of a house in winter

Have a happy solstice,  and enjoy the fact that the days will start getting longer from now on.

Best wishes,

Everett Autumn.

Happy Halloween

Carved Pumpkins
Carved pumpkins in Portland, Maine

It’s hard to believe that Halloween has already come and past. As I write this the midnight hour has already passed and all Saint’s Day has officially begun. That’s all Halloween is anyway the last day of the Celtic New Year. November 1 is the first day of the new year and Halloween is just a contraction from the phrase All Hallow’s Eve, the night before All Saint’s Day when lost or departed souls return for a visit. That is why food is often left out so as to appease the spirits on the one day when they are allowed to roam around their old haunts.

ghost costume
sexy ghost costume

I can’t believe how big a holiday Halloween has become even approaching Mardi Gras status in such places as Salem, Massachusetts and Austin, Texas. Here in Maine Halloween parties seem to be as popular as ever but I decided to spend the evening at home watching  appropriate videos.

My choice of movies included the Assasination of Jesse James, Millers Crossing and the delightful High Spirits, a fun tale that takes place in a fictional castle in Ireland on Halloween.

The Haunting
poster for the Haunting

I was presently surprised by High Spirits and enjoyed the fine performances by Peter O’Toole and Daryl Hannah. Not the deepest movie of all times but a fun spoof on ghosts and castles. The special effects were excellent and helped make the movie an enjoyable ride.

Midnight signifies another milestone for me. It is the now officially the 1st of November and I can start my NaNoWriMo novel. I think I will put off this literary endeavor until tomorrow during the day when I have more energy. Besides I don’t want all the ghosts and goblins looking over my shoulder while I writr my great American novel.

Pin up
Pin up for a Halloween Witch