We’re coming up on November, which is of course National Novel Writing Month. If you’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo, I encourage you to take the plunge and try it.
I’m particularly interested in the Young Writers Program sponsored by NaNoWriMo that encourages writers under the age of 17 to pen their novels without having to complete the adult-required 50,000 words. Young writers can set their own word count goals, yet they’ll still have some outside accountability by being a part of the program.
Last year, 119,000 adults participated in NaNoWriMo and 22,000 young writers. That just makes my writerly heart leap for joy! That’s over 140,000 people trying to connect their ideas and heart with the printed word. I love it. If people are busy writing novels, then they’re probably too busy to watch TV. They’re also too busy to go shopping spending money they don’t have. Just think what cheap entertainment this is — it’s free!
I read recently that fiction is one aspect of the publishing world that is doing well despite the recession. Readers still want to escape; in fact, with our economic woes, we have even more to escape from.
I’m thinking about participating this year, mainly to try to crank out something new. I have a hard time turning off that editor’s voice in my head that tells me what I’m writing isn’t good enough. But writing is the only way story plots and characters can come to life.
I love what author Ann Brashares wrote on the day one of her young adult novels was released. She shares in her blog:
I always worry on such a day … But this day also brings a certain joy. I am launching these made-up people into the world and giving them a kind of life. I am turning a private, meditative writing experience into a reading experience I hope to share. I am trying to connect my inner life and my stories to the inner lives of others. As E.M. Forster famously wrote in Howards End, “Only connect.”
It’s always nervewracking to put yourself out there. But it’s the root of joy.
I love that. Connecting writer to reader is the root of joy. What if C.S. Lewis had never gotten his made-up kingdom of Narnia out of his head onto the page? What if Anne of Green Gables died when her author died? What if Louisa May Alcott loved her alter-ego Jo too much to ever let her step out onto the page and make some mistakes that connected her to her readers?
I heard Ann Brashares speak in person at SCBWI 2007 in New York. It was one of the most inspiring speeches I’ve ever heard. She was humble. She wore blue jeans. She told us once we figured out how to write a scene, we had it made. She worked very very hard as an unknown editorial assistant before publishing her breakout debut novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Yesterday, I rode on the bus with a bunch of first graders and parents and chatted with my friend who has published extensively in the adult nonfiction market, yet dreams of writing novels. She has all these great ideas … in her head! Like me. Like you.
When are we going to stop talking about writing and start writing? Will you take the challenge? Let’s give it a try this year, OK?