In November, hundreds of thousands of writers from all over the world commit to the craziness of writing a novel in a month. They do it voluntarily, just for fun – but what does it feel like? To find that out, we’re following some of them on their path of surviving NaNoWriMo.
Part 4: Compared to model railroad building or yoga, writing a novel in a month is a rather unusual hobby. Do Wrimos talk about their commitment, and can they count with interest and support if they do?
“I tell whomever I come across. I take that back, not just anyone. But if it comes up in conversation then I mention it. My wife and I are actually both doing NaNoWriMo this year. This first week has been sort of a struggle, but we have been working hard this weekend to stay in the swing of things. My wife was pleased that we are able to do this together. She is an English teach and she is actually having her class work through NaNoWriMo.”
Mike Ackerman is based in Portland and married to his high school sweetheart, with two dogs – a French bulldog and a chiweenie they recently rescued. He holds a bachelor’s degree in animation and a master’s degree in journalism.
“This year, there are two other guys at work that are doing NaNo, so we have been meeting occasionally at lunch for mini write-ins. At the water cooler, we compare word counts, discuss plot points, and generally just cheer each other on. My daughter has shown some interest in the Young Writers Program, so hopefully she’ll partake sometime soon. As for the rest of my family – they just shake their heads and sigh at the crazy man trying to write a novel in a month.”
Peter de Tagyos has always loved to read, and has successfully passed his love of books on to his two children. He earns a living by developing iOS apps, but dreams of publishing a novel.
“This is how I tell my family and friends: Hey, guess what I’m doing again this year in November? I also explain it to my coworkers, who have always been supportive, but generally demand to read it in case I’ve named a character after them. Which does happen.”
His mother wanted Mel Walker to become a marine biologist, but he hopes to have kept her happy even if he became a programmer, working on land. Melvin has been doing NaNo since 2005 (albeit his first novel is, in his opinion, best forgotten).
“I haven’t told anyone about my participation in NaNoWriMo this year except my wife. If I am successful in making 50,000 words, I’ll brag about it to everyone. But until then, it is under wraps. Or maybe it isn’t anymore?”
Brian Henry Gray has been writing short stories since he was in grade school and has had several published over the years. He is originally from the northeastern United States, but currently resides in the Dallas, Texas area.
“I do share that I’m doing this. My family and close friends are used to this from me in November, as this is my third time through. Although sometimes I will mention it to a colleague and they are surprized that I would take on such a challenge. I think 50,000 words in a month seems like a lot to them. Most people are supportive, and then say they could never do it themselves.”
Martin Eisenloeffel is a writer by profession, albeit one of software manuals. In his spare time, he writes for pleasure, and if it’s not November, he also reads, takes pictures and occasionally creates some music.
“My colleagues are fascinated by the (slightly crazy) concept of trying to write a book in a month; my friends are very encouraging and cheer me on whenever I post word counts. A lot of them have never heard of this crazy adventure, and it’s fun to watch them when I explain the journey we all set out on starting Nov 1. Judging by the looks I get, they think I am really, really nuts.”
Creativity is Julia Altermann’s favorite pastime, no matter if it is photography or all kinds of handicrafts. She first participated in NaNoWriMo in 2008 and managed to achieve the 50.000 words goal in the first instance.
“Yes I do, but not as an announcement. I will mention it in conversation, assuming it is topic and/or context appropriate. The middle of a conversation about preparing the perfect soufflé is not the best time to exclaim ‘I’m doing NaNoWriMo!’ The reactions are positive, while also being wide ranging. The spectrum stretches from ‘Yay!’ to ‘You like to write?’ to ‘That sounds cool. What is it?’”
Writing challenges keep Sean Johnson motivated: He participated in the New Orleans Writing Marathon in July, and will elaborate the ideas generated there for NaNoWriMo.