Friday, October 25, 2013
NaNoWriMo and a new novel, Swim Season
Have you heard about NaNoWriMo? That's short for National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to write the first draft of a novel in 30 days. Yeah, that's right - 30 days. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Sound impossible? More than 144,000 writers have signed up to take the challenge, and I'm one of them. We can't all be crazy. I tried it a couple of years ago, but because of my repetitive strain injuries I dropped out in the first week. This time, however, I'm better prepared. I'm going to do this utilizing many different types of writing methods and not depend solely on my computer.
I love technology. Seems all these gadgets were made just for me - the iPhone, especially one with voice recognition that prints what I say into a downloadable document. Yes, it will be tedious dictating a book in this way, but since I plan to do it line by line, not so much. When I really need to pound out the pages I can always use Dragon Dictation on my PC. And on those days when I feel I can bang out a couple of pages on the keyboard I'll put my butt in the chair and do so. It's probably a unique way to write a book, but in order to fulfill this goal I need to be creative and use every tool I own, even a pad of paper and a pencil to get this story down without crippling myself in the process. I've been meaning to write it for three or four years, and since the part of my life it represents is now over, I can't waste any more time thinking about it; I need to just do it.
The story is "Swim Season," and it's about the new girl on the swim team challenging a long-standing school record. It follows the high school varsity swim season from tryouts through championships and everything in between, including practice, meets, fundraising, team bonding activities, Homecoming, football games, all that good high school stuff. It's also full of surprises, like a $50,000 scholarship to the swimmer who breaks the thirty-year old record for the 500 freestyle, donated by the title holder herself. This causes all kinds of drama for this team and our young heroine is smack in the middle of it.
Writing this book is going to be a lot of fun. Here's the first few paragraphs from my NaNoWriMo attempt in 2011. What do you think?
Aunt Mags didn't say a word on the way to the high school, and neither did I. It was too early for anything more than, "Got everything?", "Uh huh," and, "Let's go." She'd run out before her first cup of coffee and was still half-asleep.
It was barely dawn, the moon still high in the sky, the sun peeking out over the horizon. There was a chill in the air, a hint of summer's end. I wished I'd worn a sweatshirt, although after swim practice, the sun would be shining and we'd be back to summer.
We arrived at the school and a deserted parking lot. Mags parked the car by the gymnasium entrance.
"Are you sure it starts at 5:45?" she asked.
"Positive," I said, gathering my gear from the back seat.
She yawned. "Looks like you're the first one here."
"I doubt it."
Today was the first day of swim season. Tryouts started at 6 a.m. The coach had instructed all wannabe swimmers to be on the pool deck no later than 5:45. My experience as a varsity swimmer told me that anyone with any degree of competitiveness had already arrived. I had five minutes to spare.
"Want me to walk in with you?" Mags asked.
My horror at this suggestion must have been all over my face, because she quickly said, "Sorry, I'm not used to having a teenager. My girls would beg me to walk them into that big, scary building." We looked at the three-storied hodgepodge of buildings put together over the years to house the Falmouthport High School.
"I can take it from here," I said, confident I'd remember the meandering route to the pool area from the tour we'd taken when we came in to register for my senior year.
She still looked anxious. "Sure you're all right?"
"Don't worry," I said. "I've got this routine down pat." This would be my third high school. I played the role of new girl in school so well I deserved an Oscar.
I opened the door and hopped out of the car. Reaching back in to grab my bag, I said, "Don't hang around waiting for me to call for a ride home. I don't know when I'll get out, and I don’t want to mess up your day. I'll walk home." Aunt Mags nodded and I shut the door.
"Don't forget we're going school shopping later on," she said through the open window.
"Got it." I appreciated her taking me out to the mall more than she knew.
"Go get 'em, Aerin." She gave me a thumbs up.
I shot her a grin, hoisted my bag over my shoulder, and went off to join the swim team.