NaNoWriMo 2021

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. It started in 1999, and is basically a challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November—a first draft of a novel.

I was going to do it in 2008, but I chickened out. The whole idea was really daunting. This year, since I’ve started work on a novel anyway, I’m going to do it. However, I’m not holding myself up to 50,000 words (1,667 a day). I’ll be happy if I write 500 words.

For me, this is to keep me writing and to build up momentum. My novel actually began as a memoir, but I couldn’t remember all of the details of events. So I decided to fictionalize it. I already had the bulk of it written, but little did I know that fictionalizing it would be more work than merely changing all of the pronouns from first-person to third! Fictionalizing gave me a lot of freedom, and I changed a ton of what I’d written so far.

However, after the Beginning Novel Writing class I took through the Iowa Summer Writers Festival last summer ended, I hit a standstill and have been stuck until now. I have a partial outline that’s barely organized. It’s messy, and outlines aren’t my strong suit. This is the first time I’m writing one. I signed up for the Writer’s Digest University’s class, Outlining Your Novel. It has helped me get back on track, and I’m hoping this continues through November.

On the NaNoWriMo forums I noticed that some people believe writing all 50,000 words is a win, and not doing so is a loss. I don’t see it this way. For me it’s a win no matter how much I write.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you done it previously?

Online Writing Classes

Before the pandemic, I rarely took a writing class/workshop. My anxiety was such that I was afraid to be around new people. (I still am.) I had taken a few classes online, but they were asynchronous, meaning you logged in when you were able after the instructor posted a new assignment, and then turned in the homework by the due date.

Once Covid hit, many of the same writing studios/workshops held classes online via Zoom. These were known as live classes. You and your classmates and teacher met at the same time every week, “live.” Despite my anxiety, I was able to attend live classes. I was still afraid of new people, but the security of being on the Internet tempered that fear. I even kept my camera on. And unlike an in-person class, students can be from all over the world.

That doesn’t mean I was without anxiety, like about speaking up in class or worse, being called on. I usually felt like I had nothing important to say. One class I took was live, but instead of being held on Zoom, it was via a chat box where people typed in their comments during an allotted time. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, so I didn’t like the format.

Here is a list of writing studios/workshops from which I have taken classes and liked (in no particular order). There are definitely more out there.

Have you taken an online writing class? What was it like? Please let me know in the comments.

Anne LaBastille Memorial Writers Residency

So in July, I sent in an application to the Anne LaBastille Memorial Writers Residency. According to the website, announcements were to be made August 23rd. That date has come and gone, and I haven’t heard a word nor seen anything on the site. Obviously, this is frustrating. Getting that one fiction spot for writers who aren’t from the area is a long shot, but still.

At this point, I’m guessing that I didn’t get it or I would have heard. I mean, the residency begins in 2 or 3 weeks. Still, it’d be nice to have an answer, even if it’s a rejection.

My Dog

Photo provided by author

This is my dog, Rudy. He’s 8½ and was adopted from PAWS Chicago. We’ve had him for 7 years.

We call him a beagle mix, which he is, but only by about 15%. He is mostly pit bull (32%) and other breeds.

He has a bed in the office and he sometimes sleeps in there while I’m writing.