Saturday, December 10, 2011

NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up



While those of us here at ShelfActualization.com spent the month of November getting this wonderful site off the ground, thousands of other intrepid, book-minded souls were busy throwing their blood, sweat and tears into a different kind of literary endeavor: National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, for short.

Their goal? To write a 50,000 word novel in the thirty days between October and December.

"What?" You ask. "An entire novel in 30 days or less? It can’t be done."

Oh, but it has. Lots of times.

Even some great works of literature have been mid-wifed into existence in less time than NaNoWriMo gives its eager participants. Jack Kerouac famously hammered out On the Road on a 120-foot scroll of teletype paper in just three weeks’ time. Dostoevsky’s The Gambler was completed in just 26 days, and though its’ a short work, it happens to have been tackled as a side project while the author was busy writing Crime and Punishment. Not too shabby.

And Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was scratched off in just 6 days! Yeah, you’ll tell me, but the thing’s only about 100 pages long. That’s true, but at Stevenson’s pace, an entire month's work would have yielded a 500 page book of roughly 125,000 words. So, it is definitely doable.

Last year, 30,000 NaNoWriMo participants crossed the 50K word mark. This year’s writers banged out over 3 Billion words in their mad dash to the finish line. And it’s not all crap, either. Some notable recent winners, such as Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants) and Erin Morgestern (The Night Circus) have gone on to successful publication.

So, as the month drew to a close I wandered over to the literary fiction section of the NaNoWriMo forums to see if anyone would be interested in telling us about their experiences. I’m happy to report that volunteers were not lacking. So for the rest of the day, I’ll be posting our quick interviews with four of them. Stay tuned…

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