Leaves tremble on branches before floating effortlessly to earth. (How nauseating). Warm windy days give way to crisp cool nights and brisk mornings. Yards fill with frightful scenes designed to make me want to stay indoors until November. Stores teem with candy and the displays are grotesque enough to ensure your budget gets a nice break while you avoid stores as well. Meals you’ve avoided for the past months suddenly make their way back onto the family’s menu. DeLynn’s Stew, Scotch Broth, Chicken and Dumplings, Baked Ranch Chicken, Chili, and baked good such as pies, cakes, and muffins. Oh, how we’ve missed the muffins.
Oh yes, it’s coming… it’s almost here… and I can’t WAIT!
Is it fall? Nope.
Is it Halloween? Heck no!
Is it Thanksgiving? Nope.
What about Christmas? Is this all a deserty way to gear up for the best holiday ever? Nuh uh.
Is it the annual “turn-the-swamp-off-day?” Nope.
It’s thirty days of delightfulness. It’s that wonderful month otherwise known as November. It’s…
Oh yeah! Every year since the first year I heard of it, I’ve drummed my fingers through October, sometimes September too, just itching to get started. I use NaNoWriMo as my way of challenging myself– a chance to make me stretch and grow as a writer. Every year is different, but I’ve learned a lot through each one.
‘06- Hope 101
For Hope 101, I challenged myself to write romance. Not just add a tad to a book here or there, but really pull out all the stops on drippy, drively, sap-infused romance. It worked. There’s no doubt that the book has all the sap that I could drizzle over it. Most of it’ll be cut in editing, but I’ve left it for now because I like to make me reread it from time to time to remember the point of writing it in the first place– particularly when I’m avoiding a natural scene that requires a bit of mush. I love the characters, and Hope shows up in the next year’s book as well.
’07- Argosy Junction
This book was originally titled, “Not As I Was.” At the time I wrote it, I was watching the destruction that follows when people make their convictions laws for all. It broke my heart to see beautiful methods of living out principles elevated above the principles and worse, the people those principles were designed to serve. My challenge was to show the logical conclusion that might happen if people made their convictions their god. I like the book. It is probably my favorite book I’ve written.
’08- Thirty Days Hath
The book is the Christian version of the TV show, “The Bachelor.” A local minister convinces his brother-in-law to embark on an interesting experiment to see if he can’t find the right woman. A different woman (and a chaperone of course) stays with Adric at his home for an entire month– twelve women over the course of a year. Yeah. It was interesting! My challenge this year was to write with an outline. Since most of my books begin with a question that the book tries to answer, I don’t outline at all, really. However, I thought it’d be good practice to force myself to do it at least once, and now it is coming in handy for this year’s book, so this is a good thing. The odd thing is, the book has a completely different ending than it would have had I been writing it the way I usually do. I’ve tried to go back and rewrite just to see which I prefer once it’s over, but now that the book is done, I can’t. It’s strange, but it was a good thing. This one will be in print in 2011 or 2012. Not sure which.
Volition had a double challenge. First, I challenged myself to write in the first person. I don’t care for first person writing as a rule, but I thought it was a skill I should develop. My friend, Amy, challenged me to do science fiction. Well, it’s very tame sci-fi… more futuristic/time travel than true sci-fi, but it’s close enough for me anyway. I wrote about the future when today’s choices such as China’s one-child policy were adopted worldwide and then took them to the logical extreme. The future has an unbalanced ratio of men to women and the human race is dying out. So, they develop time travel and “rescue” women from the past to come to the future. Yeah… they weren’t ready for Andi. Snort.
This year’s novel is Jack. My challenge to myself is to take a ballad and write an entire book from it. I have wonderful memories of my childhood, but the ones that always pull me into the past with a nostalgia that surpasses all the others are the times my father pulled out his guitar and sang the old ballads that have been handed down in families for generations. With a voice like Jim Reeves and playing skills that rival Les Paul and Chet Atkins, Dad sang of Bonnie Black Bess, California Joe, and Cowboy Jack.
I always wanted to novelize those and the other songs he sang, but I never took the time to do it, so this year I challenged myself to take Cowboy Jack and give it a “happy ending.”
Cowboy Jack is a very basic story.
Cowboy meets girl.
They fall in love.
They get engaged.
He realizes he was wrong.
He comes back.
Happy ending… hmmmmmm
So, one day I was thinking up scenarios to give it a plausible bittersweet (if not happy) ending, and I thought of Much Ado about Nothing. Perfect.
So, now the ballad has a “rest of the story” aspect to it and Shakespeare’s brilliant story will be told, not-so-brilliantly I’m sure, in the Old West.
October 31st… the rest of the world will be doing the candy dance and the costume conga, but I’ll be stocking my shelves with snacks, cleaning the living room, maybe making a card or three, and preparing for the countdown. I’ll probably enjoy a few hours of time wasted in the forums chattering about nonsense while I ignore the clock in hopes that the time passes more quickly… I’ll have the brilliant version of Much Ado by Kenneth Branaugh on the screen… and the minute that clock rolls from 11:59 to 12:00, I’ll put that first word down on “paper.”
Oh, it’s almost the most “wonderful time of the year.” Almost.