The November stories
Many aspiring writers are furiously writing to get their novels completed before National Novel Writing Month ends
November is an exciting month for aspiring writers across the world, as they push themselves to complete a novel of over 50,000 words by the end of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
Sadia Nusrat Siddique, a business management student from Dhaka and an aspiring author, says, “There have been numerous occasions when I have had snippets of a great story brewing inside my mind, but something I never stuck with them. So far, I have penned 2,690 words and I am hopeful that I am going to finish my story exactly the way I want to within the month of November.”
In 2015, 431,626 participants participated in the programme. So far, over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been published. Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder are a few of the published ones.
Along with aspiring writers, published authors also see this initiative in positive light. New York Times best-selling author Carrie Ryan wrote Forest of Hands and Teeth, the first of her critically acclaimed dystopian zombie series, during the November writing challenge. The series has now grown into three complete novels and several other stories.
Sreemoyee Piu Kundu, former journalist and author, says, “I think it is a great initiative because it gives aspiring writers a platform to be seen and read . It is more a creative writing platform. But there are no guarantees in writing anyway. Even if you think you have penned a brilliant novel you may never find a publisher. Creativity has consequences.”
There has been a buzz around this writing challenge with participants wanting to stay abreast of how fellow-authors are faring. Quora, an international online platform based on a Q&A interface, is abuzz with discussions about the number of words they have written so far. Similarly, the hashtag # NaNoWriMo2016 is trending on Twitter. Participants share inspirational quotes to encourage fellow writers. The NaNoWriMo website also helps participants keep an eye on their peers’ progress through updates on Facebook and Twitter.
“The perk of joining NaNoWriMo is that you can post story updates in your social media groups after regular intervals. The interface is very user-friendly and so my friends are reading my story and giving me feedback. It doesn’t matter if I don’t win; I am surely coming back for this next year as well,” says Sadia.
Participants are looking forward to the discipline of writing everyday. Sumeet Keswani, a participant from Delhi, says, “I’d been mulling over a story for months now and the idea of writing a book (as opposed to short prose and poetry on my blog) had occupied my mind for years. But I never had the discipline to sit and finish a story in 50,000 or more words. It takes immense effort to move from whim-based writing to a schedule. I guess I took it up to force myself to move to the latter form. I hope to finish the first draft or at least 80-90 per cent of it when NaNoWriMo hangs over my neck like a sword.”
However poet, essayist and novelist Sumana Roy has another point of view.
“I hadn’t heard of the NaNoWriMo until a few years ago. I have to confess that I wanted to attempt it, just to have a taste of the experiment. It seemed like a practical thing to do — even writing a thousand words a day might have resulted in a novella looking foetus. But I eventually couldn’t get myself to write to this routine. It wasn’t the machine-like nature of the enterprise —writing to auto-prompt as it were —that made me uncomfortable so much as the office-like nature of the ‘job’, I think. Even the most self-conscious artists are perhaps not sure of where the art comes from. I have no quarrel with the much glorified theory of inspiration, or with the notion of literature coming from a supposedly ‘mechanical’ place, to use that colloquialism.”
She agrees that it has been successful for many, like two of her friends. “I’ve watched, from the sidelines of course, a couple of friends go through the routine, declare daily word counts in their Facebook posts at day-end, and been moved by their enthusiasm. I hear that this kind of military discipline is meant for young writers but, in the case of my friends —and that is why I’d like to say that there might be something good about this exercise — it was slightly different. Both of them were middle-aged mothers — besides being various other things — who hadn’t been able to find the time to write. I am glad to report that one of these novels has been published.”
NaNoWriMo gives hope to writers and allows them to make mistakes and reach out for the dream of writing a book. Contestants may or may not write a book, but a tighter schedule, packaging of ideas and sometimes a simple diversion from mundane chores is what they are looking for. The project thrives on the power of well-told stories. “Too many people think they’re not a creative type, but to be human is to be a creative type,” says Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo. “NaNoWriMo teaches you to believe that your story matters, to trust the gambols of your imagination, and to make the blank page a launching pad to explore new universes. That’s important because when we create, we cultivate meaning. Our stories remind us that we’re alive, and what being alive means.”
Credit: The Hindu