NaNoWriMo may sound like a disease. Or maybe a biotech startup.
But it’s actually the nickname adopted by National Novel Writing Month. And North Texans are among the 300,000 people across the country who are trying to write a novel in just 30 days.
This month, Arlington resident Stevey Solis is creating a world filled with magic, demonic spirits, dragons and mermaids. At least that's the case in her new NaNoWriMo novel. But she's having a little trouble meeting her goal – 2,000 words a day.
"No! My characters need to do this, and they're 100 miles in the other direction doing everything but the thing I need them to do,” Solis said. “And it's just like ‘Ahhhh!’”
50,000 words in 30 days
NaNoWriMo participants win when they reach a goal of 50,000 words before Nov. 30. But it's really not about winning. If writers hit the word count, they get an online badge, and a few sponsor perks. Mostly, it's about being part of a community of writers. And with only a week and half left, Solis and 10,000 other Texas writers are feeling the deadline pressure.
"By now, I’m more like, ‘Oh God, why did I do this? This is killing my brain!’” Solis said. “But it's a lot of fun, and it's well worth it.”
Solis even bought toy typewriters for her girls, so they can sit next to mommy and pretend to work, too. And when there's writer's block?
"My daughter's favorite thing is dragon helps, and she brings me her little toy dragon,” she said. “We sit him on the top of my desk, and he sits there and he helps me write my story.”
"Put it out there"
Edmund Tamakloe’s novel, Long Live Argalon, was published on Amazon after he started writing it during last year’s NaNoWriMo. Now he's working on a new novel, Rebel, about an orphan boy, born in Ghana, but raised in Liberia, where a civil war tears him and his friends apart.
"So the novel has two parts, the first part being the victim of war part, which is largely my story, and the second part which is largely fictionalized, which is about child soldiers," Tamakloe said.
Tamakloe, who works as a librarian at Tarrant County College's Arlington campus, says he wants to finish this book because he doesn't want his past to become someone else's future.
"I've always wanted to put it out there just so people can know where I am coming from, and why I am who I am today,” he said.
"Trust your voice"
Mary Hollingsworth is the author of more than 100 Christian books. And as managing director of Creative Enterprises Studio in Bedford, she helps new writers with their online platforms.
Fill a hole that no one else can fill, she said.
"How many FB friends do you have, how many connections do you have on Twitter and LinkedIn, and Pinterest, how well connected are you, and as a result, how many books can you help the publisher sell?" Hollingsworth said.
Patty Chang Anker finished her first book, Some Nerve, Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave.
One of her fears? Writing.
Trust your voice, she says – and only then will your story shine through.
"The fear is where the excitement is,” she said. “It's like the fear of the unknown is where creation happens. The next step could be a step off the precipice but that's exactly where you need to be."