Volume 74, Number 28 | November 17 - 22, 2004


NaNoWriMo — The story of my life

By Jenny Klion

Right now, if you’re very, very quiet, you may be able to hear the sound of over 30,000 writers across the country (and beyond) who have committed themselves to writing a 50,000-word novel in the month November. This is the buzz of NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month — a free, totally together annual online writing project. The name itself is almost reason enough to want to participate in the challenge, and NaNoWriMo 2004 marks my third attempt in four years to become a so-called “winner.”

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, coming up with 50,000 words in one month requires putting in 1,666 words every day, which is a hell of a lot of writing. Plus, if you fall behind at all in your word count, which I have in the past (and this year, I’m already a day and a half behind schedule!), it’s really, really difficult to catch up.

I know. I know. The word count thing is kind of shallow and arbitrary, but I like that. You’re supposed to just spit the quantity out, and worry about the quality later.

The first time I did NaNoWriMo, I believe I hit the wall at about 35,011 words, and no amount of subsequent cutting and pasting of any past material on top of that big mess (which I suppose might have been considered cheating) could bring me to the finish line. On the other hand, I was willing to share the (unfinished) work with my NaNo cohort at the time, none other than L.A. Frannie (a published poet by the way), but she, who was a NaNo winner that year, would never let me see a word of her piece. Go figure. (Obviously, NaNoWriMo’s good for a potential first draft. After that…well, I guess you’re pretty much on your own.)
The second time I did NaNoWriMo, I dropped out at about 7,000 words, so clearly my heart must not have been into it. But this year’s a different story, and I’m determined to make it to 50,000 words — if, and this is a big if — I can keep the rest of my life together for a total of 30 days. That shouldn’t be so hard to accomplish, should it?

Well…it shouldn’t be. But…besides life’s usual not-enough-hours-in-the-day activities, which include, but are not limited to, home, work and my daughter, Judy, there’s also the before, during and aftereffects of Thanksgiving, which I enjoy, and would like to participate in.

So I don’t know why I thought I didn’t have enough to do in the month of November, what with the daily couple of hours of NaNoWriMo I was adding to my plate — did I really need to initiate that disaster of a reunion with my very former boyfriend? (No, not the famous Edgy Lover, or even my ex-husband, God help me!) No, my brief liaison with the Philadelphian glass blower from Baton Rouge turned out to be wa-a-a-a-y more work that I bargained for, and I lost that day and a half on my NaNo word count ’cause I suddenly had to get one of my wisdom teeth pulled (the motivating throbbing infection of which I swear was brought on by that ill-timed and even more ill-conceived get-together)!

So now, the sensation of my phantom tooth is bringing me into the home stretch of NaNoWriMo 2004. I recognize that all the excuses in the world (did I mention they want to fire me at work?) won’t bring me to this year’s winner’s circle, and I really don’t want to be a three-time loser. Ergo, I must stop procrastinating and get back to my NaNoWriMo, so I can write up my life novel — this kooky, spontaneous and unpredictable life novel — for the third and final time — and hopefully, come out a winner….

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