To most people October 31st. is celebrated for Halloween. For the writers in your life this day is known as NaNoWriMo Eve. This magical day is the eve of one of the largest collective novel-writing programs to kick off in the United States. NaNoWriMo, or Nano as I call it, stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is you dedicate one month to write a novel, at least fifty-thousand words. When my husband and I met, he was the prolific writer in our relationship. I dreaded November because I know I became a “book widow,” as he feverishly typed away in his home office. I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.
After I wrote my first book, a couple of years back, my husband challenged me to do Nano. I believe it went something like this, “you’re a writer now, I bet you have another book in you. Do you think you can do it?” Never one to back down to a challenge, I committed to completing my first Nano ever. I wrote The Lake Michigan Affair in three weeks. At the time I was working for a local organization that threw a massive Christmas celebration for the town and I knew that I would not have the bandwidth to organize that event and write. I had the idea, a devout Catholic woman who falls in love with the new Catholic Bishop of Chicago, but little else. I set off and working under pressure, the story grew before me. I look back at it in awe. Two years later after several re-writes and copy edits, I am seeing representation for The Lake Michigan Affair. It amazes me, I still can’t believe I had that story in me.
Last year for Nano, I wrote another novel. It was the story of friends who work together. They go through a horrific tragedy and are brought together in grief. There’s only one catch, she’s married, he isn’t. What drew me to this story is that the characters had always had a “thing” for each other, an attraction that neither had ever acted upon until this turning point in both of their lives. What I loved about this project is the main character Emily, is flawed, she breaks Gabe, her love interest’s heart, not once but twice! This was a challenge to write and still make her likeable. I started this book with an idea of unrequited love between two friends that blossoms into something more, spurred on by tragedy.
There is one scene in this book that I especially love. It is where Emily has hurt Gabe badly, and she comes to him to reconcile, not even realizing that is why she is there. Gabe has just lost his mother and is back home to sign over the keys for the sale of his childhood home. She comes over to be supportive of Gabe and they end up sleeping together. I love this scene because it is so intimate. They end up getting stuck at Gabe’s childhood due to a snowstorm. Together they build a fire in the fireplace in the living room to stay warm when the power goes out. However, they have no trouble staying warm, making love to each other all night. I love this scene!
This year as I gear up for another Nano, once again I have my idea in mind. I feel like I have my main character loosely configured and her love interest or interests. This time there is no marital affair, other matters of the heart are afoot though. I am so excited to be able to start Nano this year. I love this program so much. Life is busy, and finding time to write is a struggle but for me, knowing there is a deadline, that the first draft should be done by the end of the month is exhilarating. What excites me, even more, is the story that is yet to come. I guess I am easily entertained because I am always in awe when I complete a work, that I came up with that story.
The one thing I am not looking forward to is the halfway point. It is usually at the end of the first act, or before the climax that I have a crisis of confidence and am tempted to scrap the entire thing. I have done this with everything I have ever written, with the exception of Come Sail Away with Me. Here’s hoping that this year’s doubts are manageable and I won’t give up. My personal motto has always been one word, “relentless.” Be relentless in goals, that means not giving up and telling myself, even if the book turns out to be garbage, I didn’t give up. I have never finished a book and thought it was trash, by the time I got to the end. Sure, it might need a massive amount of work, but the story is there. So if I can give one piece of advice for those of you who are doing Nano this year it would be this, DON’T GIVE UP… KEEP GOING!
See you all at the end of the month with our books in hand!