Friday, December 1, 2017

The end of NaNoWriMo and a new beginning

NaNoWriMo is over for 2017. Or is it?

For the benefit of readers who may be looking at this post and wondering if I’ve taken a too-early dip into the eggnog, NaNoWriMo is the acronym for “National Novel Writing Month” – a November-long writing marathon in which otherwise sane people commit to a goal of putting 50,000 words of a fictional opus on page or screen.

Why 50,000? That’s the number of words generally considered the minimum to form a complete novel. And although acceptable word counts can vary according to literary genre (epic fantasies, for instance, ran run to twice that length or more), 50,000 is at the very least, a respectable core for any work.

But wait – did I forget to turn the calendar page and notice that we’re now in December?

Just as the “National” part of NaNoWriMo has long since morphed into a worldwide event since its inception in San Francisco long, long ago, NaNoWriMo now sponsors literary activities spanning 11 months of each year. 

Earlier this year, I raved online – and in person to writing partners – about all the wonderful free stuff I had access to as a NaNoWriMo participant. Free because although participants are “free” to make contributions (potentially tax-deductible to U.S. participants under NaNoWriMo’s IRC 501(c) status) its hordes of participants also attract hordes of sponsors.

Free webinars on editing? Check. Writing contests and pitch critiques? Check and check. Craft discussions, pep talks, free or reduced-price merchandise? Check, check, and double check.

image: NaNoWriMo
Oh, and did I forget to mention the free cover illustration program that benefited 30 NaNoWriMo writers (with 20 percent of the nominated entries coming from participants in NaNo’s Young Writers Program)? Check the “forum” link on the site for the complete list. I even loved the graphics at the site that visually illustrate the literary genres represented. 

Among nominations for cover illustrations, at least, that most-popular genre of Fantasy represented 27.7 percent, followed by Young Adult with 17 percent and Science Fiction with 10.7 percent.

Sorry, 50 Shades fans, but Erotica was the least represented genre, with 0.2 percent. Perhaps the world has been over-shared recently with sexual peccadillos.

And although NaNoWriMo is on hiatus during December, January and February are its “what next?” months, when writers begin the process of revising all those words. Or start to plan our 2018 project. Or start a new, pre-November project, via month-long NaNoWriMo Camps this spring.

Curious to know whether a newcomer could sign up for this bounty today, I tried, only to be stopped because I’ve already used all my email addresses. I’ll check with the volunteer liaisons here in my own Dallas-Fort Worth (Texas) NaNoWriMo region as soon as they’ve had time to recover from their work. In the meantime, for readers new to the program, please let me know if you’re able to sign up at the NaNoWriMo site.

I was too busy writing last month to even glance at the sponsor offers on the site. Get some sleep, maybe a shower, and take a look at offers that include personalized editorial feedback, or even a publishing contract for shortlisted manuscripts from Kindle Scout; a chance for YA novel publication by Macmillan via; a free book upload with IngramSpark; and many, many more free or discounted merchandise offers.

Personally, I will be checking out the revision advice offered by the joint Coursera-Wesleyan College classes NaNoWriMo wrangled for participants earlier this year. And polishing my first 10 pages for the Writers League of Texas manuscript contest, with its January 30, 2018, deadline.

Happy writing to all, and to all, a good December!

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