Nanowrimo 2002 – yes you read it correctly. The year was 2002 when I first discovered the challenge. I wrote a novel, “Filigree Bracelet,” never published. What I had to say about Nanowrimo fourteen years ago is just as appropriate today:
NOVEL: an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events.
I signed up for National Novel Writing Month. Do I honestly think that I’ll finish a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days? Well it’s only 1666.67 words per day. I’ve been aiming for 1000 words each day in my daily journal writing. But that is life; the novel will be fiction. A creation of the imagination – can I be that creative?
Write what you know they say. I know about these things from experience: alcoholism, drug addiction, codependence, preachers families, climbing mountains, hiking, backpacking, wilderness, driving across country, exercise, diet, nutrition, some diseases, taking antidepressants, having kids, shopping, internet, taxes, bookkeeping, self help books, genealogy, sewing, knitting, quilting, losing mom, taking care of dad, backaches, depression, therapy, red hats, email, web pages, managing an office, ptss, aa, alanon, naranon, weight watchers, Sunday dinners, short cruises, train trips, flying, job search, relationships, kids, husbands, sisters, brothers, friends, 12 steps, gambling, living with a gambler, owning a Jaguar, cats, living on a hill, having a pool, losing a home, financial burdens, spending money, credit cards, inheritances, church, correspondence courses, junior college, health clubs, aerobic classes, people watching, coffee, overeating, bicycling, running, races, time outs, working 7 days, working the program, not working the program, slogans, teachers, meditation, gurus, sponsors, girlfriends, renting, buying a car, walking, wandering, having tea, camel races, slot machines, crossing bridges, writing letters, fleas, digital pictures, skydiving, roller coasters, river rafting, caves, sleezy motels (Pizmo), elegant hotels, altitude, honeymoons, abuse,
So how does one take all these things one knows about, pull it all together in a semblance of a novel that anyone else might care to read? Or does one just do this for the personal satisfaction of knowing that she has the discipline to sit down and write 1666 words each and every day for 30 days? They say anything you do consistently for three weeks becomes a habit. Do I need to develop another habit? On the positive side, this could be a habit that could someday become a resource for money. Practice makes perfect. But is practice in life enough without the benefit of a firm education?
Muse: perhaps I should develop a relationship with one of the “nine sister Goddesses in Greek mythology residing over song and poetry and the arts and sciences.” I saw a book called “Writing Without a Muse,” and must admit my ignorance of what that means. Is it about Goddesses or is it about “a state of deep thought or dreamy abstraction?” At first I thought it is my lack of education, how could I even consider myself a writer when I don’t even understand the title of that book? Upon further consideration I know that I have no college education, no MFA in writing, just experiences in life that I want to get onto paper. There are many who encourage me to do so and say I am capable. I just need to sit down at the computer and start, muse or not, I can be amusing, I think. Perhaps I should buy the book.
So this is what 540 words looks like. Only 1127 left to go and I would be done for one day. But, what if for one day I just could not possible fit in the time. The following day I would need to write 3334 words. It could snowball until on November 30th, which happens to be a Saturday thank goodness, I would be sitting and writing for all those missed days. Or would I give up at that point? How much time is involved in 50,000 words? 50 hours perhaps? It might be good to track how much time I put into this, just for my own curiosity. It may take longer since this is to be purely fiction and I am more into writing creative nonfiction. Then again, there is no rule that it has to make sense. It can be merely 50,000 words of complete and total nonsense just so long as the product is a “novel”. Which brings me back to, what is a novel anyway? I’ve read plenty of bad novels. I’ve thrown away a few that I spent hard earned money on wondering how anyone had the gumption to publish such pulp.
734 words. I could become obsessed with word counts. How many words are in a page? Well that depends on a lot of factors. Type size, font, margins, paragraphs, spacing. A manuscript must be submitted double spaced or single spaced? I need to find out I guess. Would be good to know. There is some discussion in the Nanowrimo forum about how many pages it takes to write 50,000 words. What a ridiculous thing to ponder about. It’s 50,000 words whether you choose to fill up a notebook or a computer file. Hmmm, wonder how big a computer file is with 50,000 words in it?
839 words and now I am at the bottom of my page. 10 pt arial font, margins .5 top and bottom, 1″ each side. I just changed the margins to 1″ all around. So now this statement is false. I am working my way down the second page. Looks like I would be looking at only two pages a day if I set my margins this way. I could do that.
Now about the time it takes to do this. I have done this, this morning at work. I’ve been here for 1 ½ hours. But I have been interrupted. I’ve had to answer the phones, talk to the boss, do some filing, call because we have no internet connection this morning, write some checks and make the coffee. Considering all the work I had to do, I would guess I have just spent about 45 minutes of my bosses time writing these 992 words. Hey, I could get paid for this? I think that is cheating. Cheating more way than one. I am cheating my boss. Am I cheating Nanowrimo? Right there in the front of the website there is reference to working on these words while at work. I don’t think I’m the only one doing this. Just hope I’m not the one that gets caught. Any spy software on this network? Hello?
1064 words. This is getting to be obsessive. Thank goodness for Word which has that word count feature. I just found out that I can put the “word count” icon on my tool bar. Now that is really cool because now I just click on that one little icon whenever I need to know. Think of how much time that saves me! 1126 words now. Now I figured out how to change the little icon for word count. I changed it to a button, a button with the image of a coffee cup. Then I edited the icon picture and put a number (#) sign on the cup. My secret word count button. How special!
Can I really do this? It will take discipline, “stick-to-it-iveness,” something I have had problems with before. I get an idea, work up a genuine enthusiasm, start off with a bang, gradually run out of interest and come to a screeching halt. Unfinished projects fill a trunk in my apartment already. Unfinished projects abound in my computer hard drive. I need an incentive. Not money. Not fame. Just a reason why I should complete this project. It could be just for the experience of following through, just finishing something I started. Perhaps I need to tell other people what I am doing. Get encouragement and backup. Would they allow me to venture into this project and not be curious as to what I write for this endeavor? I don’t need a critique on my shoulder telling me I am full of self-indulgence that is a complete waste of time. Eric thinks it’s a good idea. But he’ll probably beg to read it. One thing there though at least he is always willing to let me do what I think I need to do. And he realizes that I get into these fantasies and just goes along for the ride. Plus it will give him that extra hour a day (if that is how long this takes and if I work on this in my own time at home) to sit around and play his video poker game.
Speaking of Eric, he is off to Cache Creek today. At least I think he is. He asked me this morning if he could borrow my car and go there. I chastised him. He didn’t sleep well. How can he be safe on the road. In my normal mode, I just kind of ignored the problem, didn’t give him a direct answer but as I walked out the door to go to work I said, “good thing this is the day I don’t come home for lunch that way I won’t know where you are.” Is that permission to use the car, go gambling, and ignore the issue all in one sentence?
1528 words. Near the bottom of page two and less than 150 words to go. Could fit that into one paragraph I’d say. Therefore it would be less than two pages a day to write. Now why couldn’t I possibly keep that commitment? This is seeming more and more likely to be an accomplishment that I can do. So now the question is back to what will my topic be. What will the story line be. I need to start outlining it I think. It must be something that will keep my interest. Something that I can relate to. Something I have knowledge about. Something that will make some sense. Something worth the space on my harddrive. What the heck, that’s what delete keys are for. Just a few more words and I’ll be at that remarkable number that must be accomplished each day – oops I went over – one thousand six hundred eighty three words.
Rosie #593 sits in the middle row of the middle aisle at Craneway Pavillion in Richmond on Saturday morning. She looks around in awe at the gathering crowd of mostly women, ages two months to 100 years. She never has excelled in estimating crowd sizes but is thinking, this just doesn’t look like it will make it. We must have more than 2097 to boast the Guinness World Record set in Ypsilanti, Michigan last fall.
An excited crowds drowns out the rich melodies of 1940 performed by the Swingin’ Blue Stars. Closer to the stage, red and white polka dot heads bob to the music, red socks and boots dance in the aisle.
Volunteers pass out thousands of Kashi protein bars. Rosie #593 puts hers away for later and grimaces as her neighbor bites into a Basil, White Bean and Olive Oil bar. That just doesn’t seem right. She checks her bag, relieved to see her bar is chocolate/cashew.
The music stops and a NPS ranger (sorry, didn’t get her name) takes over the stage. We stand to sing the National Anthem in boisterous harmony. Did we win?
NPS Ranger reads off a list of 38 Rosies, ages 92 to 100, still living. Some of them are in the audience. We applaud with enthusiasm after each name. About six names in, the ranger suggests we hold our applause to the end. But, did we win?
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier takes the stage donned in his Rosie bandana, and taunts his Michigan rival, Debbie Dingell with a video of Rosies claiming “Richmond Rosies Rule” on his iPhone. Supervisor John Gioia wears his bandanna and turns to take a selfie with the most Rosies ever. Mayor Tom Butt joins the stage fun also sporting an official bandanna. There is a slight hint that we may have won.
But we need to wait for the official count. We are instructed to stay within the designated area for the next five minutes. Excitement builds. Did we win?
I am #593 of estimated 2265. We have succeeded. Hoots and hollers fill the room as we parade out for our one mile walk to the Home Front Festival.
For my Michigan friends, sorry. It’s all in fun and I’ll even let you in on something that is not so secret – three of your participants happened to show up for us. Maybe I’ll show up for yours but please don’t tell my California friends.