Tomorrow, one of my favourite months of the year begins.
November. Or, as it's more aptly known, "Nanowrimo month". That is, for the uneducated, "National Novel Writing Month".
I first took part in 2006. I'd just graduated university and had just started my first "grown up" job at the DVLA. A job I knew, within about 3 days, was clearly not going to be my "forever job".
I can't really remember how I first stumbled across the idea for Nanowrimo. I can only imagine that it was mentioned on a blog, or on LiveJournal. But straightaway, I knew that is was something I'd want to do. Something I could be good at. And something creative (there was a supreme lack of creativity in my existence in those few years - things like neurochemistry, the biology of the eye and vehicle taxation do not lend themselves to creative endeavour)
So, that first year, I plucked a vague idea out of nowhere and went with it. And so wrote 'The Marbles Of Flamaingo'. Let's just say that I had an original idea that was quite good, but then zero idea of how the plot should develop. But I blabbed on for 50,000 words to claim my first Winner!status. I've barely looked at what I wrote since the day I finished the 50k.
Now, 50k is a LOT of words. It really is. It's about the length of 'Catcher In The Rye' or 'Brave New World'. Strictly speaking, more a novella than a full-length novel. But a book nonetheless.
I then skipped out on Nano for a few years. I made vague attempts in 2007 and 2008, but couldn't get it to happen. Then didn't try at all until 2011.
That year I got an outline idea of a book from dad. It was a fun idea in the sci-fi genre - a genre I like to write in, but not read personally. Because I had the basis of a plot, it took the bulk of the idea generation away. And so was, in it's own way, a nice step-up back into the world of Nanowrimo.
I ended up winning Nano again with the novel I named 'Chain Of Command', but after the 50k were done, I didn't really know what to do with it next. There were some good bits there, but not enough to make me do more.
In 2012 I did it again with my own idea and wrote 'Ten Steps Behind' (later renamed to 'The Drugs I Choose', but I still really think of it as T.S.B). I had another easy win (I think I was done by the 18th of November) and it was the one I enjoyed most so far. As the story unfolded, I knew exactly what I was doing with it, and, for the first time ever, was able to write "The End' at 51k. The first time I'd managed to produce a whole story arc.
At the end I knew what edits I'd like to do and even decided on a new direction for the story. But I've never gotten around to it. It's the first one I've written that I think has scope to continue into something more, should I ever be so inclined to do so. I'm really quite proud of that book.
This year I'm writing 'River Road Hotel', which is roughly about people smuggling and illegal migrant workers. Basically a modern day slave trade.
This will be my first "real world" book. My previous 3 being based in mostly sci-fi/futuristic worlds. To be writing about something that could be happening today is a new one for me.
People have asked me "why do you do it?" Or "what's the point?"
To which I don't really have an answer for either. For the first question, my answer is usually something like "because it's fun and it's a challenge." For the second, it's usually just "fun". But there is So Much More To It Than That. I do think that until you commit to Nano'ing yourself, people just don't understand how fulfilling it is. It is impossible to put into words. Indescribable.
I'd have to rely on people far more eloquent than me to explain it. All I can do is say that you marinate in a sea of creativity for a month. People who enjoy creative pursuits will understand how much fun it is to be creative. Well, in Nano month, you just get to bathe in that sea of fun for a solid month. It's really quite incredible.
People always put a barrier up when Nano is suggested to them. But honestly, if you enjoy creative writing, then try it. Because at the moment You Are Missing Out. Believe me, it will really be one of the best things you ever do.
As someone cleverer than me said - "... I remember how swept away I felt when I was writing it..."
And if that isn't enough to get you to at least try... Well, just go away.