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 The submission rate from unpublished Namowrimo authors must be astronomical.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

New Adult Fiction

New York Skyline
Skyline for New York City

Here’s an interesting note that I found on the Query Tracker blog. It is actually an announcement and link to the fine folks at St. Martin’s Press, who are sponsoring an agent pitching contest. (N0, you don’t get to toss any agents around, just submit a proposal) However, if you are interested in submitting  a pitch to St. Martin’s, you are too late because the contest is closing as I write this entry.

However, if you are an aspiring author who writes just above the YA level this this contest is still very good news, because it represents a new and developing trend among adult readers under 30. Let me quote from the editorial staff at St. Martin’s who run the blog and are hosting the contest.

We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.”

That kind of says it all, as far as I am concerned, it is very good news for both writers and book publishers like St. Martin’s. It also means that the younger reader is not only smarter than the literary world has realized, but that they are reading more fiction than previously thought. From this point it only goes to surmise that this genre is a growing market for writers, who wish to take Young Adult fiction to the next level. This is also good news for young writers who wish to write for their own peer group.

St. Mark' Place
St. Mark's Place in New York City

Hopefully this new genre which the St. Martin’s staff has labeled as “new adult fiction” will develop into a cutting edge genre. Anyway you look at it, the fact that young adults are into a more sophisticated literature is good news.