The novelist awakens

As I briefly mentioned last month, in November 2015, I wrote a novel for National Novel Writing Month.

For anyone who's never heard of it, NaNoWriMo (still a mouthful, though it's shorter than the full name) is an annual writing project, open to all. Just as the name implies, the idea is to write a novel in one month: more specifically, to write 50,000 words between November 1st and midnight on November 30th. This works out to 1,667 words per day, so it's not impossible, but it is tough. It started in San Francisco in 1999 with 21 participants, and has somehow grown to include over 200,000 people (called NaNoWriMoers....because that's catchy) from all around the world. 2015 was my third time participating, after 2011 and 2013 (apparently, I don't like even years.)

Most NaNoWriMoers don't actually make it all the way to 50,000 words (which is fine), and they still have fun. There's a real sense of community no matter how many words you actually end up writing. Across November, I went to multiple write-in events, where dozens of us would meet at coffee shops and other locations across London and write in 45-minute increments with 15-minute breaks in between. The best were the ones held in an actual neighborhood bookstore. The owner was a NaNoWriMoer himself, and would host us with tea and cookies after closing time. It was kind of fun to sit there in silence, frantically typing away, not really sure why I was so fervently writing this novel that no one might ever read, but still spurred on by the fact that everyone else there was doing exactly the same thing.

...It bears noting at this point that in rereading those last few sentences, I realize I am a huge nerd.

...But that's ok! Because I finished my 50,000 words, which only about 15% of people actually do. And then a month or so later I sent my novel to my sister Dania and I paid her to edit it and give me her detailed opinion. All of which was AWESOME, because it meant that it wasn't my problem anymore, it was HERS.

*beat*

Until tonight. Because she's just sent it back to me. Metaphorically bleeding with comments, suggestions, and (hopefully constructive) criticisms.

I mean, her email back to me is practically a novel in itself!

For example:

"Page 48, 1st paragraph - Hughes, Hallett, Hauschmann - Get on with it! Time wasted on trivial matters."

Or this:

"Page 85, 3rd paragraph - This paragraph is a little too '7th Heaven' or Lifetime Original Movie for me." 

Or:

"Page 101, 7th paragraph - No explanation on why pyjamas make Aaron act weird." 

Well, crap. I don't even remember why pyjamas make Aaron act weird. It's been a couple months since I've thought about the story at all! It was HER problem, remember?!? Not mine! I barely remember who this weirdo Aaron guy even IS!!

But you know what? This is still closer than I have ever, ever been to finishing and publishing a book before. Something I have always, always wanted to do.

So, time to get back to work.

Love,
Joëlle