This is my third year of NaNo. I almost skipped it for two reasons: I’d rather finish my current projects instead of beginning a new one, and I knew I had to concentrate on my thesis this semester.
I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2010 and 2011. As a result I have one complete novel and one in progress. The idea of the second one came during my first NaNoWriMo and I couldn’t wait for 2011 to start it. After that, however, my ideas for a new project were not so clear, and I really wanted to finish my first novel before opening a new blank document.
From the perspective of time and experience, my first time as a Wrimo was my greatest November ever. I felt I was in a fairy tale. I had a lot of responsibilities, but my life focused on writing – this newly-found ability of mine. I was so naïve back then, that I enjoy remembering it, just as I enjoy remembering my teenage and some of its awkward situations.
My second-year NaNo-quest was completely different. I felt businesslike. Again, I had responsibilities that were very different from the previous year. Plus, my schedule was tight. I had no time to blog about my NaNo progress or the writing process or the revelations I had. I had no time to Tweet or post on Facebook. The whole experience had a peculiar tie-and-suit feeling to it.
This time, however, I don’t feel like a Wrimo. I feel like a user of the challenge. I use its word count statistics, its deadlines, and the collective enthusiasm of all Wrimos in order to achieve my goals. I have the somewhat guilty conscience of an average school cheat. I know NaNo Rebels are officially acknowledged as having the right to rebel, and yet I know the truth. The truth is I am not doing a proper NaNo.
Some good things? Oh, there certainly are some. For example, there are some things I don’t do as a Rebel, which normal Wrimos probably do and waste precious time on. Among them:
- I don’t spend time in Forums, which I loved to do. In fact, I used the Adoption forum, and four of my very important characters came from a thread there. They all belong to the same author and made meaningful appearances in my first novel. I used to go to the Plot Doctoring forum topics for advice on how to manage particular twists and turns in the plot, and some virtual traps authors walk themselves into. I loved the discussions asking for practical advice as to opening hours of institutions, uniforms the characters may wear, or other peculiarities that we seldom notice in life.
- I don’t use the prop tools that I found very helpful in the previous years. Two years ago I used a Random Name Generator (http://www.kleimo.com/random/name.cfm) which generated around half of my characters’ names. Names are hard for me, as I don’t live in an English-speaking country. People here don’t have English names and I am afraid that, without such help, my text would have one too many Georges, or Johns, or Brigits… I have no idea of what would be adequate surnames either. Perhaps, that is an unreasonable fear, but there you have it – fellow Wrimos have provided authors with that tool. Another helpful tool is one that generates whole identities (http://bg.fakenamegenerator.com/) along with date of birth, believable telephone and security numbers, address, occupation and educational background, a real e-mail with password that you can activate, a vehicle, and personal details like height, weight, and blood type. It can generate “identities” from several different countries. Handy, ha?
- I don’t run background checks for a) synonyms in Thesaurus (http://panlexicon.com/) in order to enrich my phrasing, or b) facts and figures in encyclopedias to ensure the story’s sustainability. Once, I used such tools to verify geographical locations, climate, average day- and night-time temperatures… just to make sure my story passes the “reality” check.
Of course, if you are a Rebel writing creatively, such as a series of short stories, essays or memoirs, you’ll probably use these tools. The thing with creative writing, be it fiction or not, is that you have all you need in your head. You may need references here or there, but you “create” the text. How can it be not “true” if you are the creator?
Part of the hardships of NaNo Rebelling while writing non-creative non-fiction is that the writing must be based on reference books and articles, so I need to read, study, analyze and create my own text based on what wise scientists and practitioners before me have concluded. Now, instead of wasting time in Forums, I spend time studying my subject.
Another major setback is that the text I need written at the end will not be anywhere near 50k words. That is because my whole thesis is supposed to be around that volume, whereas the theoretical part should be about half of it. So, I know even now that I can’t complete the NaNo project this year by a long shot. I have been thinking of adding my term assignments on different disciplines at University to the total NaNo word count, as that is actually part of the same thing: a series of assignments/term papers, instead of a series of short stories or blog posts. Still thinking of it.
What is your NaNo Rebel style?
Visit Mariya’s blog at Mariya Koleva.