I am thinking of joining NaNoWriMo. It’s not that I’m not busy, but I do feel I need something like this: a goal that has nothing to do with regular daily routine. Something I can do for myself.
NaNoWriMo is a challenge and a competition you have with yourself. Writing a 50000 words novel in a month sounds like quite a challenge, but it’s not like I didn’t do that before (when I was 14, for example). So completing the novel might not be as much of a challenge as finding the time and energy to actually write.
Now when I think about it, I guess I already decided on joining the project this year (it will be my first NaNoWriMo. I did hear about it before, but I thought it was about blogging – and there’s no way I could blog for 30 days straight).
The novel itself
Of course, this brings us to another issue: the novel itself. It’s not that I don’t have the ideas (I always do), it’s the fact I am one of those writers who do extensive research, who prepare for months (and years- my current novel is 7 years in the making, and I still haven’t written a single word. I still have a lot of research to do!) Writing a novel with almost NO research and preparation scares me. I still want it to be a real novel, no matter how badly written and unedited it might turn out, and not just a 50 000 word collection of thoughts or segments that can’t be tied together in any coherent way.
But it’s not that I don’t have an outline that can work as a short novel. This story is unusual to me, since it’s not about anything in particular… It’s one of those stories about life, without much of exciting adventures or deep messages and high concepts.
However, there are several potential problems.
1. It is set in America
It is set in the a small town in the US with American characters. Needles to say, I am not an American and I’ve never been there. And while I DON’T believe writers should write only what they know (in a way of the setting, type of characters, situations, etc.) this thing can be a problem because I will, no doubt, make many, many mistakes (especially given the fact I don’t have much, if any, time to do a research). Of course, writing about another culture never stopped US writers from doing it, but… Well, since I know what is like and their frequent epic fails in this department, it seems a bit disrespectful to “just do it”. Now, it’s not like I don’t know anything about American culture, but I will obviously make many mistakes, and some of them can get in the way of the plot.
I am not sure about the genre. At first, I thought about the “literary fiction” category, a no-genre genre, or “boring & serious” genre. Nothing wrong with that, of course (my usual genres are historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy and SF). But given the fact all of the characters are 17 and it’s basically “coming of age” story, I thought that YA (Young Adult) might be more appropriate. Still, there are problems. You can’t put whatever you want in YA novels, and my story includes (but is not limited to): gang rape, violence, suicide, premarital sex. These things are usually not welcomed in YA. (Now, “premarital sex” sounds really innocent comparing to the other things listed, and it is, but even these things are not welcomed in YA). And in case somebody wonders, while the things described sound shocking and provoking, the novel will have a somewhat slow pace and I am planning on writing it in a detached, not too emotional voice (I think it suits the story the best). But all in all, I am not sure if it goes in YA category (and you must pick one when registering).
3. Pen name
I don’t really need it for this, but if I’m ever going to even bother publishing anything, I better start thinking of an appropriate pen name. And yes, I do need one. There’s no way I am going with my own name. It’s not that I don’t like it, or that is unmarketable (which is true, btw), I just don’t feel comfortable. So, how to choose a good pen name? I have no idea. All I know I want it to be gender and culturally neutral, which I know it’s virtually impossible. Crap. Not sure what to do about it.
Compared to the previous three, this one is minor, but I am one of those people who usually have a title in mind immediately after thinking about an idea for a story. The title is usually there to guide me. Not here. (And not for that monster I’ve been planning for 7 years… Only this year I figured out the working title, and it’s not even the perfect one).
NaNoWriMo website: NaNoWriMo