Thinking of joining NaNoWriMo

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.

2. Genre
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

5 thoughts on “Thinking of joining NaNoWriMo

  1. zekjevets

    my brother does nanowrimo every year. he’s been working on a novel for two years and is over 200,000 words! i’m not sure when he’s gonna give birth to this baby, but if his wordy-fingers can do it, then so can you.

    you should just write without the research. the important thing with first drafts is they are going to be shitty. the point is to get your ideas down on the page before you forget them, or they change, or you unconsciously edit them into oblivion. when it comes to writing, you must write, or else what’s the point in planning? enact that verb!

    besides, it’s not like anybody has to see it either. so if it sucks major donkey-balls, then no harm no foul. toss it in the trash and write the next one.

    anyhoo, good luck with nanwrimo!

  2. Mira

    Thanks for the encouragement.:)

    I am not afraid of writing 50 000 words; I am afraid I won’t find enough time to write and/or that it won’t be coherent at all.

    Of course, you are right: it doesn’t have to be good. But the problem is, I still want it to be semi-decent.

    By all means, this is a great project. You are right (again): it is important to get us to write.

  3. Sigg3

    Literary fiction LOL. You can betcha there’s at least some 3-4 existing genre that cross at your intersection. (I think the genre-ism of journalism destroy some of the work and the literary culture.)

    With regards to 1) I often face this problem myself when I churn out stuff for Truckin’. The trick is just to not rely on the scene to do the acting (check out any book by Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club). People will usually assume you’re writing from / about America anyway. Why not do something different?

    3. Pen names are great. Play with it. Get JeffLion translated into different langauges, run it through an anagram server, make a little epigram or something:)
    How about Lone Jiff? :)

  4. Mira

    People will usually assume you’re writing from / about America anyway.

    This is, unfortunately, true. America is what is considered “general” and “neutral”. But for some reason, my characters came to me as Americans, so I can’t escape that now. Not that there’s anything wrong with stories set in America or American characters! ;)

    Balzac wrote 24/7, but a lot of it is not worth reading twice.

    lol! It was a bit harsh! ;)

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