Nanowrimo has my official initial participation date as being the November of 2007, making this my seventh attempt. The truth is, I’ve been joining the throngs of crazed writers during the month of November since I first read about it in a newspaper. (You remember those don’t you? They were large folded, rolled, and stuffed into a plastic tube archaic items that used to bring the news of the day into our homes.)
Nobody knew about my participation of course. I was a closet writer. I don’t even think I had a computer, just scribbled longhand on spiral notebooks, the ink pen housed in the curly wire banding the pages together. I’d stuff the whole thing in the magazine rack or under a sofa cushion when anyone entered the room.
On days I wasn’t inspired to write or had reached a section I wasn’t savvy enough to press through, I’d count the words, jotting them at the bottom of each page with a slash between the total for the page and the running total.
By December I’d usually have half to two-thirds of the required 50,000. Eventually, I informed my family of my decision to join up , and with accountability, came close that first year.
I learned the importance of preplanning a couple of years in. And once I began to achieve the goal, I upped the challenge to writing in a new (to me) genre each November.
Friendships, love stories, paranormal, intrigue, mystery – it’s all accompanied me through past Novembers. Last year the big challenge was young adult. Although it was new and different, resulting in words no twelve year old boy would likely use (sluice for example), it came together nicely and frankly, was much better than I expected it to be.
This year I’ve been wrestling with the story knocking feverishly at my brain. I have been refusing it entry.
No, I will not, I answer.
But it has pushed every other thought out of my head, possessing my creative muse, crossing its arms over its chest, smirking through pursed lips. It defies me not to listen. It has wrapped its long fingers around the neck of every other idea, choking the life out of its possibility of existence.
Yes, you can and you will, it answers back.
So, here I am. It is November. I signed up for Nanowrimo 2013 weeks ago. I must write something.
Memoir writing is a strict discipline. It has to be handled carefully and thoughtfully, though not as strictly as one might when calling such a thing an autobiography. It is about the subject’s memories, feelings, and impressions, understanding that two people can share an experience and come away with wildly different perspectives of what happened.
But when suicide and mysterious accidents run through the family line as inherently as blue eyes and straight teeth, there has to be fallout. Although I would rather not free-fall into the abyss, I have already discovered something new and important. Perhaps the only way to break the dark clouds is to push insistently through them.
I’ll try to keep you updated. I’ve added a widget to the blog to show my progress. If I’m absent for a while you can at least see that I am writing something.
Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.
Renee Johnson is the author of Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray. She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food. She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and one very spoiled German shepherd named Gretel.