November is a busy month. We're barely coming down from our post Hallowe'en sugar high when we're confronted with Remembrance Day ceremonies and the sudden onslaught of Christmas shopping expectations is upon us. For the past couple of years we've added the burden of growing moustaches for charity, a noble, if itchy, cause to be sure, but one with which those of us with spouses or significant others may have trouble reaching agreement on.
And since 1999, we're supposed to write a book.
NaNoWriMo is not a Norwegian translation for grandmother. It is National Novel Writing Month, an undertaking by then freelance writer Chris Baty who challenged his authorial friends to write a novel in thirty days. Within a couple of years, Baty's little project had over five thousand participants, anxious to access the muse within and choosing the gloomy month of November - too wet for outdoor pursuits, not yet cold enough for skiing - as the period in which to do it. It now has many thousands of entrants each year, though it is no longer a contest in so much as all the entries are evaluated or even read. But it does have a website where writers will share their stories of their experiences, so-called experts will offer insight and as of this writing, nearly three hundred thousand aspiring writers have registered their participation.
Now I certainly don't need another writing project. What with the nearly full calendar year behind my own self-imposed deadline on W3.doc, taking the month of November to venture off on what is essentially a vanity project seems less than a productive idea. Writing an entire novel in thirty days may seem an impossibly unwieldy task, but really the entrant is challenging themselves only to a paltry fifty thousand words, a mere 1,666 words per day, 6.1 measly double-spaced pages, every day for a month.
By comparison to the three-day novel contest, a Vancouver creation and tradition for thirty-five years, NaNoWriMo is practically for slackers. This is an undertaking in which I long planned to participate, if not for the surely high quality novella I'd be setting out to produce, then at least for the war stories I could swap with fellow participants, sitting in the bar, sipping extra dry martinis like Hemingway. Yes, I know Hemingway blew his own brains out and he never even entered either contest but I'm sure I could handle it.
But pressure is the point, or at least it was for me. I was rather hoping I would find the prospect of a month-long writing challenge inspiring enough to get a solid burst of writing done on W3.doc, simply substituting my existing project for the new one to be created as part of the challenge. Adding fifty thousand words would put me within striking distance of finishing the book altogether; with my target word count at between ninety and one hundred thousand words (unlike the behemoth first draft of Last Dance that weighed in at nearly a hundred and forty thousand), meeting the NaNoWriMo standard would have brought me to the mid eighty thousand range.
November's word count in W3.doc so far: eleven.
In fairness to myself (being fair to myself is a therapeutic skill on which I continue to work), they are eleven pretty quality words. But if I'm going to meet NaNoWriMo's objective, my daily output needs to increase somewhat: starting today I'm aiming for two thousand, nine hundred and forty-one. How hard can twelve pages per day be?
I'm hoping not to ask Hemingway.
Next week: My man crush