Kicking off NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMoThis afternoon, Laura and I attended the NaNoWriMo Cleveland-area kickoff party. Twenty-six people gathered in a meeting room at the Beachwood branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, including a reporter[1] from WCPN and couple of groupies supporters who came out to cheer on their favorite aspiring novelists.

Christine, our municipal liaison (she’s running the show, folks), gave everybody a little pep talk, introductions were made, and then the room was abuzz with chatter about the upcoming adventure in marathon writing. Story ideas were traded, as were tips on maintaining momentum, finding inspiration, and recovering sanity once December rolls around. Punch, cider, cookies, crackers and cheese curls were consumed.

Throughout the month of November, we will gather on Thursdays and Saturdays to socialize, encourage one another, and participate in timed “sprints” to see how many words we can bang out in ten or twenty minutes. We will also make use of the forums at the official NaNoWriMo website to brag about goals met, lament goals missed, and just to blow off steam.[2]

Chris Miller is doing a series of podcasts about NaNoWriMo and the Cleveland-area participants throughout November. The first episode in the series — which features interviews recorded at a gathering earlier this month, a snippet from NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty[3] and an essay from a Virginia NaNite[4] — was published yesterday.

Chris was unable to attend today’s event due to skewed priorities a previous commitment, so I volunteered to be his field correspondent. Foolishly, he accepted[5]. I interviewed[6] a handful of people, some new to NaNo, some who are returning to take another whack at writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Some have their stories outlined and characters created while others have only the seed of an idea that they will nurture into full blossom over the next month[7]. All were upbeat, excited, and anxious to begin.

Tomorrow is the last day to prepare. Once the trick-or-treaters are all at home with their candy hordes, the sounding of the midnight bell will signal the start of National Novel Writing Month, and the mad dash will commence. Sixteen hundred sixty-seven words a day. Eleven thousand six hundred sixty-nine words a week. Fifty thousand words before the bell tolls to signal the start of December and the end of our novels.

Now all I need is an idea.

[1] His name: Daniel Moulthrop. His voice recorder: Sony MiniDisc

[2] I bought Chris Baty’s book No Plot? No Problem! last year and dutifully read the prescribed chapters. Perhaps if I’d actually paid attention to his advice I might have made it past 20,000 words.

[3] When I first attempted NaNoWriMo back in 2003, I don’t think I even managed 5,000 words. I was flying completely solo that year; I didn’t participate in the on-line forum or attend any of the meetings. I think making myself a part of the community in 2004 helped keep me going as long as I did, and I hope I’ll be able to continue the positive trend this year.

[4] I’m pretty sure the preferred term is “NaNoers,” but that looks weird when I type it.

[5] Hey, the guy only just met me. Cut him a little slack. He’ll learn.

[6] Laura listened to the interviews after the party. “For an interviewer,” she said, “you talk too much.” I’ll try to do better on Thursday.

[7] I’m in the latter crowd. Actually, to continue the analogy, I’m the guy who has no tiller, seeds or topsoil, but is pretty sure he’d like fresh corn come autumn.