Writing the Great American Collection of Many Words

National Novel Writing Month 2013 Participant


It’s NaNoWriMo, which I should write out, if for no other reason than it increases my word count, and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is all about the word count. Of course, the other reason to write it out is substantially more prosaic; most of the English speaking world does not recognize NaNoWriMo as a word, especially with that painfully tedious mixed case spelling. It’s not an acronym, because, no one tries to pronounce it as a word, but it is a marginally abbreviated signifier of the annual challenge to write 50,000 words in a single month.

For many years, I have contemplated joining the madness that is NaNoWriMo. I admit, there are outlines of novels in various stages of completion in my “Writing” folder, most of which lack characters, plot, or even anything more than the basic skeleton of a world, or idea. The teensy lack of such details are the reason I have heretofore opted out of the annual November ritual. And this year was looking no different.

And then, on November 5th, a series of unlikely events lobbed a fully-formed novel idea into my lap, which, in my experience, is also an unlikely event. So, even though it was nearly a week late, my NaNoWriMo friends encouraged me to jump in, and I decided it was time.

The “work-in-progress” is a horror comedy, and it is 20 pages of the worst prose I have ever composed. The good news is that it is about 23 pages long, so, I’m hoping to salvage at least a bit of it. I am still behind, and am trying to figure out how to get the words of this column to somehow figure in my word count for the day.

I also failed to account for the fact that I had a non-word count contributing presentation to finish this weekend, and I managed to waste hundreds of words that don’t count on that project. Useless, non-contributing words.

Working on a new writing project as intense as this one, I have also managed to find new ways to procrastinate while feeling productive, which include repeatedly re-calculating my minimum daily word count number, estimating how many words are in the one-and-a-half sentence paragraph I just finished, and wondering if the hyphenated adjective “one-and-a-half” counts as only one word or four words (it only counts as one).

I can hardly wait to finish this and start a few thousand words of mostly gibberish in for the day. I am in awe of the slowly growing count of words, and even more that some of then are marginally coherent. What pleases me most about getting the words down is that I’m no longer simple talking about writing them, I am writing them, and, perhaps in a few months, after getting all the words down, I can get rid of the wrong ones, and have produced an actual novel.

Stranger things have happened.