Monday, November 15, 2010

Do you NaNo?

For those who are unfamiliar, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is a fun event currently (and annually) sweeping the internet. It is a challenge to write a 175-page novel (50,000 words) by midnight on November 30th. The idea is to just write until you reach the word-count goal, or until your fingers fall off, in hopes of finally being able to call yourself a novelist.

Many people out there have dreams of writing a novel and will probably never get around to it. I was well on track to becoming and staying one of those people when I heard about NaNoWriMo from my roommate. Sure, I've always had the best intentions when it comes to my writing. An idea for the great American novel will come to me in the night all glittering gold and full of promise. And I'll jump on that idea and write like crazy until I get bored...about 10 pages in. Then I'll shut off the computer and make myself a snack, maybe go to the gym, open the mail, and completely forget about the fantastic idea and all my prior enthusiasm.

That's where this challenge comes in. It completely does away with the idea that I need to be excited about what I'm writing in order to write. The rules are just that I plug away until I have 50,000 words. They don't even need to be intelligent words, I just need lots of them.

So I've accepted this challenge, and I'm making it public to keep myself on task.

Here's a synopsis and an excerpt from what I'm working on:


A few years out of college and still working in a dead-end job, Sarah Moon (26), is aimless and bored. She has yet to figure out that her feelings of loss and abandonment stemming from the death of her father are holding her back. She has done nothing in her life but run away from people and relationships.

Told half from Sarah's perspective and half from that of her mother, Ann, this is the story of Sarah's cross-country journey following a rock band and finding herself. Through Sarah's writing about her travels and Ann's memories of Sarah's shortened childhood, the reader comes to understand how our feelings about life and death color every part of our lives.


His favorite thing was to scoop up Sarah and toss her into the air like a miniature acrobat. He'd tell her that one day the whole family would run off to the circus together. It was something she'd read in a book and always wanted to do. She didn't understand that when children run away to the circus they are running away from home, away from their families.

Sometimes I imagine them when I'm doing dishes, looking out the back window into the yard. Chuck, with his huge form blocking the autumn sunlight streaming under the chestnut tree, while he swings Sarah around, creating crazy shadows dancing across our kitchen walls.

At the end, this 6' 5" weightlifter who tipped the scales at 225 had shrank down to 160 pounds. He shook constantly and could barely lift a water glass to his lips. I could see in his eyes that he didn't want to live another day, but sadly, he did. It went on that way for the longest time. He fell away completely, he barely noticed when we came to see him.

It was as though he didn't just die, he broke into a million pieces. The hospital became my puzzle box, full of tiny fragments of my husband that would never fit together again. As he sank further into depression, I continued to try to reach for him, though it became clear toward the end that my gestures were meaningless. What do you say to someone who's physical life is everything when they are breathing their last in a plain white room? He told me once that the only thing that would make him happy again would be to pick up me and Sarah and walk right out of the room. Apart from that, there was nothing else.


Anonymous said...

can't wait to read it!!

Anonymous said...

Captured my interest so far.