Beginning in a few days, I will begin pumping out a massive amount of words (for me, anyway) for a month. I signed up for the April 2016 Camp NaNoWriMo event. No one coerced me, no one forced me, no one even suggested that I do this. I am doing this to myself! So, in preparation for the big event, and having never written a novel, I have been questioning what it’s all about – writing novels.
For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, which occurs every November. In that month, the annual event is held, which provides a “virtual retreat” for writers and wannabe-writers to create a novel in the timespan of one month – a mere 30 days. The goal is 50,000 words. That is the magic number. (In case you’re trying to do the math in your head, I’ll save you the trouble. It comes out to 1,667 words a day – every day for 30 days.)
Camp NaNoWriMo is a little more flexible than the annual event, at least insofar as word count goes. Even the objective can be different. The “camper” can commit to writing a novel, or just continue editing a work in progress (WIP). They welcome word counts between 30 and 1,000,000 (who can write that much in a month?), including poetry, short stories, and even scripts. Since I’ve never done this before, and in preparation for possible participation in the annual event in November this year, I am committing to writing a novel – my first.
Conveniently, that leads me back to my original question: what’s novel writing all about?
I can appreciate how truly nutty that sounds. Here I am, about to embark on a quest to write my first novel in the span of a month, and I’m asking that question. Am I crazy? Maybe. (But aren’t all writers, in some context?)
I return to my question – what’s it all about? Is it about word count? Is it about SPAG? Is it about story? Is it about communication? Or is novel writing about something else entirely? I mean, after all, it’s just a make believe story in a make believe world, isn’t it?
If you’re expecting me to provide definitive answers for my own questions, remember that the person writing this is someone who uses the moniker Clueless Gent!
If I were to provide this answer after Camp NaNoWriMo, it might be something entirely different, but this is how I feel now: I think novel writing is taking something that is only visible in the synapses of the brain – part conjured, part based on life experiences – and transforming that vision into something perceptible to others.
In the short time I’ve been writing, I have learned to completely quit planning or outlining a story all the way to the end, because once the characters get a hold of the story, they transform it as they so desire, and I just have to follow along and document it.
My take on this could be entirely off base, novel writing could be something entirely different. For now, however, as I head into Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ll keep an open mind and see where the experience leads me.
I will likely add a new page to the site to chart my progress during April, if you’re interested.
If you have already completed a novel – or several – I’d love to know how you answer the question: what’s novel writing all about?