Until a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t sure I’d do NaNoWriMo this year. After the release of The Newcomer’s Guide to the Invisible Realm, I had no energy for or interest in working on my novel-in-progress. I found my way to a few poems, some random writings in my salons, and a slew of journal entries, but the shine had gone off of book-length projects.
This is why I love NaNoWriMo. It took a lot to pull me out of that slump. The dream work that happened at Dream Camp was part of it, but to really get the juices flowing, I needed to come up with an idea for NaNoWriMo. I chose the genre, young adult romance, for two reasons. First, I recently critiqued a YA romance by Lisa Brown Roberts and was reminded of just how much fun the genre could be (though Lisa’s a master at comedy, which I’m not). The second reason was that I’d tried my hand at this genre in a previous NaNoWriMo and the story turned out pretty well, so I have some confidence I’ll be able to do it again.
But that’s not a lot to go on…a genre. Because I’m a pantser (writing by the seat of my pants) rather than a plotter (having the book’s structure figured out ahead of time), I don’t need a lot to start writing a novel, but I do need more than that. A character, a first line…I’ve started books knowing only that. But with a genre like YA romance I know some of the structure already–the push and pull of romantic relationships, the misunderstandings, and the overall theme of “figuring out who I really am in relationships” that generally underlies YA literature.
To get a little further, I started toying with an idea that emerged from a conversation at my college reunion, and pretty soon I had the weird quirk for one of my main characters. After that, the ideas started flowing. Soon, the magic took hold and I knew I’d found the story…but had to wait to start writing.
Yes, I could have started writing sooner, but much of the fun of NaNoWriMo is playing while everyone else is playing. There’s a synergy to seeing who else on Facebook or Twitter is giving it a go, and how it’s going. And there’s nothing wrong with increasing the desire to start by delaying the gratification of diving in. I’ve written elsewhere about reasons why I do NaNoWriMo (here, for example) but this year, it feels like I’m falling in love with writing all over again. That has to be a good thing.
And then on Halloween, I received a card from John McDonald to cheer me on into NaNoWriMo. The image captured exactly the space I’ve been in, and will be in for the next month. Thanks, John! I’ll try to get back to earth in December. Here’s the image, by Quint Buchholz: