All Booked Up

Monday, November 16, 2015

This is National Novel Writing Month, often referred to as NaNoWriMo. It started with a group of friends who decided to go on a novel-writing binge and expanded to become a worldwide event.

The idea is to start a novel from scratch on November 1 and end up with 50,000 words by November 30. Not necessarily good words, and certainly not a polished novel, but words on paper or computer rather than just in the person’s head. That’s the goal, anyway. Ideally, the participant will then continue writing and editing and polishing until he or she ends up with a finished novel.

It sounds like fun, but I’ve never done it, and I probably never will. The reason is simple: I always seem to be in the middle of an active project when November 1 rolls around, so it’s a bad time to start a new one. But I don’t mind. In fact, I’m glad it works out that way.

NaNoWriMo is good for people who need to get jumpstarted on a novel, but that has never been my problem. I have plenty of ideas, and I do manage to get them written. That’s what the graphic at the head of this post shows. I have already written four novels, am working on the fifth, and have the skeleton for a sixth. I also have a long list of ideas I can use after that.

My first three novels were Christian women’s fiction, and I enjoyed writing them. But the fourth, the fifth (my current work in progress), and the next idea are all middle-grade historical fiction, and they excite me in a way that the first three never did. Middle-grade historicals feel like my niche, and I hope publishers agree.

None of my novels have been published yet, but my writing gets better each time. I circulated the first two to a number of publishers and agents before putting them in the drawer, where they are now. I hope it isn’t egotistical of me to think that they are as good as many of the published books out there. But I can do better. I have learned a lot since I wrote them, and I may take them out of the drawer and revise them at some time in the future. Right now, however, I have too many other ideas to work on.

The third and fourth novels are currently circulating, so we will see what happens with them. In the meantime, I’m working on Creating Esther. And when I finish it, I’ll move on to the next one.

That’s what I mean when I say that I’m all booked up.* I don’t need a jumpstart, and I’m not going to pause an ongoing project just because NaNoWriMo sounds like fun. It’s also not designed for middle-grade fiction, which is shorter than the 50,000-word goal. But if I’m ready to begin a new story next November 1, I might see how many words I can write during the month.

If you are participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo, keep writing when December comes. Write and edit and polish until your novel is finished.

Because a jumpstart doesn’t do any good if you don’t get in the car and drive.


* Thanks to Dian Kutansky for giving me the idea for the title of this post.

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