Saturday, October 31, 2015
I may melt with the summer heat and chatter in the winter chill, but no, I am not stuttering, even though we are about to enter the month of November. I'm actually mulling over the thought of National Novel Writing Month—more informally known as NaNoWriMo.
Our local genealogical society has a special interest group devoted to members who want to write their family history. Whether in book form, short stories, or other formats, members of this group have found that sometimes we all need a push to get going. In our meeting Thursday night, one of our members casually mentioned, "Well, you know it's almost November. And that means NaNoWriMo."
I happen to know what NaNo is, only because that group member happens to also be my daughter. And said daughter has been participating in NaNo for every one of the last several years. Of course, she's a fan of fiction and a clever storyteller. But what if someone doesn't want to write a novel? What if someone—like me—only wants to write serious stuff, like whatever became of our ancestors?
There's a place for even me—and all my fuddy duddy non-fiction-loving friends—The Rebels at NaNo. Just like the rest of the NaNo participants, NaNo Rebels will awaken with the sunrise on November 1 and fly to their keyboard. Even though they will have chosen a genre outside the realm of fiction, the race will have begun: they have only until 11:59 p.m., November 30, to complete a fifty thousand word manuscript. No editing. No revisions. Just write!
If something like this sounds insane to you, consider that well over three hundred thousand participants from six continents—and several spots marked on the Pacific and Atlantic oceans which may possibly, come end of November, be totally submerged—participated in the 2014 NaNoWriMo. The program has been going strong every year since 1999—if you're like me and need to read every last line of background material, you can see the official history of the whole NaNo saga here—and is now coordinated by an official non-profit organization.
When it comes to those NaNo Rebels writing their way to fifty thousand word success, in the genealogy world they include no less than published writer Lisa Alzo, author of Three Slovak Women and Baba's Kitchen. Lisa has another writing project that's been bubbling on the back burner for over ten years, and has decided now is the time to revamp and recreate that dream during NaNoWriMo. She's signed on to the project under the name GenWriter, if you're looking for her in the Rebels forum at NaNo.
To infuse the commitment for all of us potential family history writers with more excitement, Lisa has teamed up with GeneaBloggers creator Thomas MacEntee to publicize contests and prize offerings to inspire participants' progress. That is only part of the buzz created around the NaNo event; the official website catalogs a number of other incentives to not only get people writing, but finishing their project.
As for me, well, this is probably the closest I've ever come to considering the plunge. I've always wanted to convert the stuff I've found, through incessant poking around, into book form. Maybe someday I will, I keep telling myself. But I know the only way that is going to happen is to sit down and do it. And keep doing it until it is done.
But then, there's that sticky thing called Life. And, oh, that little personal commitment to keep blogging on a daily basis. Things like that can get in the way. Besides, it's one thing to spin a yarn straight from your head onto a computer keyboard. Genealogical research, however, takes more than just editing. It takes a lot of background footwork. Research. Fact checking. Grunt work. All that plus fifty thousand words may be a daunting task for one month.
But how else does one kickstart a project like that?
Anyone else considering springing for NaNo 2015?