Speed noveling month kicks off Nov. 1 | ParkRecord.com

Speed noveling month kicks off Nov. 1

by Tracie Fails, of the Record staff

At the stroke of midnight on Nov. 1 in a brief moment of silence between musical sets at Halloween parties and the wrappers of late-night candy snacking a deafening clamor of keyboards will begin across Mountain Standard Time. The typing, fast and furious, will continue into the early morning hours, fueled by 16-ounce cups of coffee and the maddening desire of writers to bank an impressive word count before daybreak.

As the sun rises, the weary, maniacal typists will drag themselves through the necessities of daily life without full focus. Laundry will go unfinished. Dishes will clutter the sink. Kids will be forgotten at ski school.

The computer, however, will remain running manned as often as possible, fingers flying. The unexplainable madness will continue for 30 days and 30 nights until midnight on Nov. 30, when thousands of disheveled, sleep-deprived, shell-shocked writers hit their final punctuation marks the fruits of their labor on screen in front of them.

At that point, a nine-year tradition of speed-noveling will also have come to a close.

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo to its participants, began in 1999 when founder Chris Baty and 20 of his closest friends in the Bay Area attempted to write 50,000-word novels from scratch in 30 days. The inaugural effort produced six completed manuscripts and a wave of enthusiasm that now attracts thousands of aspiring novelists.

Last year 79,813 participants attempted the challenge, with 12,948 "winners" reaching the 50,000 word count, according to the NaNoWriMo Web site, nanowrimo.com.

The idea behind the project thrives on what Baty calls "literary abandon" the ability to throw painstaking attempts at perfection aside and simply crank out quantity.

"Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap," Baty warns on the Web site. "But this is a good thing. forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create."

While the rewards for producing laughably awful novels are largely personal, some novelists have achieved great success through the project.

Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants, the bestseller selected as Park City’s "One Book" this year, penned the novel during the NaNoWriMo frenzy of 2005. She continues to participate in the project. Thirteen other novelists have also published manuscripts through NaNoWriMo, including Lani Diane Rich, whose Time Off for Good Behavior and Maybe Baby both became feature films.

Aspiring novelists can visit nanowrimo.org for the rules of participation, information about how to register and local events.

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