November is National Novel-Writing Month, as many of you know, and many of you maybe don’t know. Every year, aspiring writers are challenged to complete an entire novel in just this one month (50,000 words is the low-end cutoff for a piece to be considered a novel; between 30k and 50k, it’s considered a novella. Fewer than 30,000 words is the accepted range for a short story. Most novels by writers who actually get paid and have agents and editors and other professional-type attributes tend to be between 80,000-120,000 words). This year I will join in for the first time. But—me being me—I’m going to do it differently than most participants.
I’m currently working on my prison memoir, Rebel Hell: Doin’ Time For Barely a Crime. I started November already about 95,000 words in. Before I started that, I completed a 300,000+ word epic, ultra-militant animal liberation novel called The Liberators. So basically, I’ve been writing the equivalent of a novel a month for about the last 4-6 months, ha! I don’t need the NaNoWriMo Challenge to write a novel—I’ve already completed 6 of them, plus halves of 3 others! But I’m approaching a difficult stretch of my prison memoir, so I’ll play along and use NaNo as motivation to continue kicking ass on the memoir. My goal is to write 40,000-50,000 words on the book this month. I’ll post weekly updates with my progress, and perhaps some juicy excerpts.
I could work on what will be my next actual novel—Aran Kerplowski and the Polish Family Circus—and easily bang out a first draft, or at least 50,000 words of a first draft, this month. I have enough material in my head for it to complete a draft. But I think I need to write that particular novel at a slower, more deliberate pace. It will be of a higher quality that way, and like I said, I most certainly do not need NaNo and a feverish write-no-matter-what challenge to complete any novel. So instead, I’ll just challenge myself to continue my heavy, feverish, dedicated work on the prison memoir—which I think is an extremely funny, heart-wrenching, politically important book. I also think it may be the novel that helps me break out for a wider audience, since prison stories and shows and movies are so popular.
Happy Writing!! Don’t let it drive you too crazy…