I Was a Wrimo Again

Participant-100x100-2Hello writers, from Adair Heitmann. With the recent, tragic and unimaginable losses in the Sandy Hook community in Newtown, CT, I can barely focus on this post. Yet, writing helps me through grief, it has universal curative powers.

Kahlil Gibran wrote, “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” Much of our collective grief has to do with the senseless killing of innocent children. Children who were in a safe place, school. Children who were with teachers and administrators, loyal to the children’s welfare and capable of taking care of them, until, the unthinkable happens. Gibran’s quote helps me see that I cry because I love children, because I’m a mom, because I’m a teacher, and because I love teachers. All those things, when taken in the balanced order of life, bring delight. I mourn, with the rest of our country and the world. As a writer, I write, to help me get through this grief. So, I am going to continue with the essay I planned, an article about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Dipping my toe in the NaNoWriMo seas again this year was truly delightful. This past November, I managed to participate in NaNoWriMo and still keep my job. Plus keep all my diverse professional and personal plates spinning. The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to inspire writers of all ages to write 50,000 words in one month. I entered with my eyes wide open, knowing that reality prohibited me from having the spare time to write a 50,000 fictional novel. However, if I added up all the words that I wrote for work, I’m sure I’ve written several full-fledged novels during the month of November. I used NaNoWriMo as a way to fertilize my own writer’s platform, by playing in a national arena. I knew I couldn’t complete a new novel, but my day job gave me the opportunity to participate as part of a community outreach. (It’s nice to write for a living.)

To complete the participation in NaNoWriMo, I needed to look into my own resources of what I’d previously written. I brushed off a parable, for children of all ages, that I wrote 21 years ago. I re-worked some sections, and wrote some with fresh eyes. NaNoWriMo inspired me this year. I had to submit something to get the dandy “Participant 2012” icon you see above. I submitted my children’s parable in a word document to the official NaNoWriMo word count counter on their website. The word count added up to a spanking 2,369! Like any good teacher who acknowledges an advancement that his or her student makes, I’m giving myself an A for effort.

Being involved in NaNoWriMo writing circles also gave me a chance to learn more about their Young Writers Program for kids and teens. It looks like an energizing and creative way to engage young writers. I’d encourage any teacher out there, reading this post, to incorporate this into next year’s Language Arts syllabus.

I end today’s piece in a dedication, with love, with compassion, and with inspiration to all the children and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

On a holiday note: All of us at the Fairfield Writer’s Blog wish you a peaceful season and a New Year filled with hope.

Until next time, keep on writing.

A NaNoWriMo Virgin No More

Hello to all you writers out there, this is Adair Heitmann writing today about my NaNoWriMo experience. Last October’s blog shared information about November being National Novel Writing Month. The contest is billed as “Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon.” It hosted 337,618 writers from 45 countries this year. The purpose of the challenge was to complete a new 50,000 word novel in one month.

Imagine all those writers feverishly writing within the same erudite community during the same month. How could anyone not be psyched? I certainly was. Becoming a member of this intergenerational writing society was so cool! As authors we are often alone at our kitchen tables writing longhand on yellow legal-size pads, as our dishwashers churn away. Or, with open laptops, sitting isolated in a busy coffee shop, hammering out our stories, while blends of French Roast fill the air. Being an active participant in the NaNoWriMo literary adventure helped me feel a part of something larger and greater than just me.

However, I knew from the start that I only had time to brush the surface with NaNoWriMo this year. With my other professional deadlines and personal responsibilities, writing a new novel 2-3 hours a day would be out of the question. But I still wanted to play. I figured, I may as well enter and see what NaNoWriMo was all about from the inside. I had a ball, and the memories from my month are keeping me all a-flutter.

The entry form asked for a genre, which made me pause and think. As a mostly non-fiction author, how did I want to spend my infinitesimal NaNoWriMo fiction prose time? It was a toss-up between Satire, Humor & Parody or Erotic Fiction. Going into this with an open mind and a cavalier attitude helped free me up to recognize that I had nothing to lose. I may as well stretch my creative muscles, and write something outside my comfort-zone.

As November progressed I straddled my world of by day being a mild-mannered literary consultant and by night flying wildly in free expression. This lack of inhibition, however, caused me to be confronted with literary questions that I don’t ordinarily have to face.
1. As an author of non-fiction, my articles, books, essays, and blogs don’t require a disclaimer. But as I wrote in my chosen NaNoWriMo genre I started to realize that I may want to change my name. You see, I need my day job and wasn’t sure if the genre of my fictional piece would jeopardize it. Entering “NaNoWriMo-Land” had really inspired me to let my hair down, I’d become downright reckless.
2. As a parent of a budding teenager, I wondered if what I was writing might be an embarrassment.  I can mortify my child very easily on my own without intentionally adding to it.

Then, through a Facebook connection I learned of a writing contest in one of my genres of choice. Hmmmmmmm, could I be published and paid very nicely for my new novel? I wondered that I might be able to pay for my child’s college education by writing with such freedom and frivolity.  November found me juiced up every time I sat down and wrote.  I didn’t even need an oven; the heat coming off my pages cooked the Thanksgiving turkey. Then I got to wondering, with all the time and effort I’ve spent building my writer’s platform with my real name, if I had a nom de plume for this new genre I’d have to start creating an entirely new writer’s platform for my pen name. Oh, when would I find the time?

My NaNoWriMo month ended as I finished fleshing out tantalizing characters, entwined with moments of dizzying delights. At the end of the contest, I leaned back, inhaled deeply, and smoked a cigarette. My month was like a good one-night-stand, filled with tantalizing memories, but I didn’t end up marrying the man. Will I date him in 2012? You bet I will. Delving into fun fiction was like stroking my hand along luxurious silk. Could I wear it every day in my active life? No. But would I put it on for certain occasions? Yes, oh yes.

As 2011 draws to a close, all of us at the Fairfield Writer’s Blog wish you a very happy holiday season. May Santa fill your stocking with your heart’s desires, and may the New Year bring you ecstatic hours of literary abandon.

Until next year, keep on writing!

Write a Novel in a Month

Hello to all you writers out there, this is Adair Heitmann writing to you about NaNoWriMo. “What?” Have I started speaking in baby-talk? No, I’m talking about the growing sensation of National Novel Writing Month which starts on November 1, 2011. To quote from their website it is “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon.” What’s not to like about that?

Forget preparing the house for Thanksgiving guests, let your friends eat from tarnished silverware. Have to cook every night after work? Let your family eat frozen dinners for a month. Clean clothes, who needs them? Rides to school? Let the kids walk, it’s healthier for them. Spend time at the gym? What are a few extra pounds anyway? Sit down, claim your inner writer and focus on writing a draft of your entire novel in a month. Don’t edit, just write. I’ll bet you come out a different person, filled with more joy and passion, and a better writer after just thirty days.

A colleague shared with me the storyfix.com website which offers on-going day-by-day encouragement, information, and support for all NaNoWriMo veterans. Here’s another resource to check out it’s called Primer and shares information on how to survive writing your novel in a month. Some local libraries are posting daily hints and tips on their Facebook pages. There is a groundswell of interest in Fairfield County about NaNoWriMo. Why not join in the fun?

NaNoWriMo has even recruited an all-star team of contemporary, leading-edge published authors to give you pep talks, all through the NaNoWriMo website. What could be better than that? I’ll leave you with one last thing before I go and stock up on frozen dinners for the month . . . this quote by Teresa Jordan, “If we don’t tell our stories, they will be told by people who do not understand them at all.”

Until next time, keep on writing!