02 November 2015

Why I'm not joining the Nanowrimo cult!

It pains me to use the word cult but perhaps that is the most accurate word. Let's try to keep things in perspective, however: it's a good cult. You might say it's "cultilicious"!

November is the month of worship in the cult of Nanowrimo (what the uninitiated may call the "National Novel Writing Month"). It is chiefly for those whose nervous fingers cannot avoid the succulent keys. I have never been able to participate because of its unfortunate scheduling. You see, November is the fattiest meat of the fall semester and tough to cut; it's when I have the most day-job work to do. Sure, I could write a draft of a novel in a month--if I had no day job to tend to, if I had no other disruptions, and if I had the idea in advance. But that is really the challenge of it.

That sticker was from last year, when I did participate. I had no idea but grabbed an unfinished sci-fi novella that had been sitting around for years and plunked it into the microwave for 90 seconds. Then served it to my Nanowrimo muse. I "won" by completing 50,000+ words during the 30 days of the month. Granted, I started with a couple thousand and an outline but I finished with more than 55,000 words, anyway, thus earning me another cool sticker.

November for me is typically the lull season. The past few years I have had ideas stew during November and take root in a Word file sometime in February. I pound the keyboard through the spring months and cruise into a final page in the middle of the summer. I revise and edit into the fall and voila a new novel is born. Then it hits me: the lull. Writers know what this is and dread it. The Lull Month is full of doubts. Did I just write a bunch of crapola? Will I ever get another idea? What in the world will happen to me if I can't write anything more?

Then spring comes--although, for me, it's usually in December or January. And the process starts over again. November? Not the best time for me.

In 2014, I wrote my medical thriller vampire novel A DRY PATCH OF SKIN on the above schedule. This year, I wrote a new novel about an orphaned Inuit girl who grows up and saves the world (forthcoming), A GIRL CALLED WOLF. But now I am in the lull month again and have no ideas. I still have not finished the sci-fi novel from last year's Nanowrimo but it would be unfair to try to use that again to achieve some dubious fame. 

There is nobody in my circles who would be impressed at me writing 50,000 words in a month. Those who know me, know I can do it. This past summer, I wrote 55,000 words on a laptop while sitting in a hotel room in Beijing and teaching a class on the university campus across the street twice a week. (I blogged about that experience here.) However, I've always been a quality over quantity type of person and go through many waves of revision, tweaking a word here or there until I cannot contain the urge more.

But I digress....

I shall cheer on those who dive once again into uncharted waters--for what could be more uncharted than the lexical spaces within the gray matter of a twisted mind? 

The goal for celebrants of NaNoWriMo is to create from sacred mind-fire a 50,000 word book. By definition, that is the minimum length for something called a novel. That seems to be easy enough. My previous novels have been in the 72,000 to 128,000 range. However, let us not forget the time factor: one month--with the day job looming precariously over all.

When we are embroiled in the vagaries of daily life, we cannot simply sit down at a given moment and type out a story! 

Good luck to all, and to all a long night!

(C) Copyright 2010-2015 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.


  1. I have done so in the past, but not this year, and not in a while. It's most fun when you have friends participating with you. I will say this, Oklahoma does have a pretty cool contingent that meets and supports each other. Nice people.

    1. Alas, I've not encountered the OK contingent, but my avoidance was based purely my own vice.

  2. Yes...yes it is a cult. Sell all your possessions and move to my mountain top! Shout shalt key words...lots and lots of words...some will be meaningful, and they shall lead the way to greater or lesser things. Or something.

    1. If it could be otherwise scheduled, or if I were retired from day job madness, then...yes, certainly, I'd join.

  3. Shout? Why did my phone insert that? It was supposed to be 'Thou". D**n auto correct. D**n it to H**k.