Wednesday, October 31, 2007


It's that time of year again, boys and girls. Time to ingratiate myself with my usually stubborn muse, feed him chocolate (leftover Halloween candy, anyone?), and beg him to feed me 1,667 words every day for the entire month of November.

Otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month (

I've participated in this collective insanity—churning out 50,000 words of fiction in a single month—since 2004. Each year I've made the deadline with all 50,000 words. Then, I've gone on to finish that year's novel (usually adding another 25,000 words or so) by the following October in order to enter it into the Christian Writers Guild's current Operation First Novel/Book contest.

In fact, I just finished my 2006 NaNo novel late last month and entered it into this year's Operation First Novel contest. The first round of semifinalists probably won't be announced until December. I'm not holding my breath, but I've placed as a semifinalist or better twice before. In fact, my first NaNo novel from 2004 went on to be a Top 4 runner-up in last year's contest.

While hyping myself up for that first NaNo challenge in October 2004, I trolled around the NaNo forums and read about AlphaSmarts. I was so intrigued, and so plagued by my internal editor (who had hog-tied and gagged my muse on numerous occasions), that I immediately hit eBay and scarfed up a used AlphaSmart 2000 for about $50. It was the best fifty bucks I ever spent. Between the AS2000 and NaNo's insane deadline, I not only untied and ungagged my muse, but I bitch-slapped that internal editor upside his head and spit in his eye just for fun.

Otherwise known as an epiphany (although saying it the first way was more fun).

And now I am standing on the precipice for the fourth time. On the floor to my left is a huge white board filled with multicolored scribbly notes on this year's novel (you can take notes but can't write any prose until 12:01 a.m. on November 1). I took it off the wall and put it here next to my desk so I can copy it into OneNote and work with it.

For the next three hours, before I can start the actual writing, I'll be concocting characters and plot lines, perhaps even running that first sentence in my head a little bit.

And since no project gets anywhere without a working title (at least not in my world), I've come up with one I can live with for now: Mrs. Needlemeier's Novel Idea.

Yes, it's supposed to sound quirky.
Yes, it's important that she's a Mrs.
Yes, she's writing a novel. That's all I'm going to say about that.

And now, as the countdown clock strikes T-minus three hours, I'm off to do that plotting and planning I've been avoiding all month. This is one project on which I cannot procrastinate.

Which is why I hate . . . errr, love NaNoWriMo so much.


Madame Bovary Update: I finished Madame Bovary over the weekend. I found absolutely no character to sympathize with, which made the novel vexing to read all the way through. I felt no remorse at Emma's downfall, and once everyone else around her scattered to the four winds or died, well, I'd about had it with these people.

Now I'm reading Stephenie Meyer's Twilight—a much better choice for Halloween, and certainly a lot more fun. I'm about 100 pages in, so I'll report back on this one once I'm done and moving on to the second book in the series, New Moon.

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