My relationship with books has been rocky. I once liked reading, and even writing small stories of my own. Elementary school clocked that love of reading over the side of the head with a plank made out of Accelerated Reader quizzes, and high school kicked it in the gut with a steel toe made out of symbolism. But I won't fault school entirely. I know that a passion for reading and writing would have overcome even these obstacles; I've always eaten up math no matter how badly it was taught. So while my love of writing found little place to grow, it was there, in the form of oddball scifi stories that I never got around to finishing.
On October 27, 2007, an online buddy mentioned National Novel Writing Month
to me. On a whim, I tried it. I've now written five novels which all sit on my shelf. None of them are published or even revised; they're proof copies, prizes for accomplishing the sole goal of Nanowrimo: write 50000 words in 30 days. I've discovered that I'm very good at writing 50000 words. (Even though most of my attempts turned out to be thinly-veiled 300-page political rants.)
I have pondered a career many times. But each time the thought was shot down by my reluctance to read. I could feel it looming over me like a bad combination of a mentor I once had, a girl who hated me, and Stephen King, telling me in a deep voice, "You don't read, and you want to write? For a LIVING? Pitiful."
For a while, Nanowrimo founder Chris Baty's sheer enthusiasm was enough to let me kick that glowering ghost in the face. I defiantly churned out book after book, hung out with our local writing group at Borders (the whole month is worth it for the inside jokes alone), and just felt full. Even if I never sell a book, I thought, I'm doing Nano for life. I don't care if I don't read enough.
And yet, in a roundabout way, I am growing that passion for books - their art, structure, message, and magic. I missed the point when I choked down books like dry meatloaf, to score points or build author karma. I never thought I would love reading for its own sake, and that through writing. And I have grown to love the fact that when God spoke... he spoke in a book.
I invite you to write with me this November. Whether you're bookish or not, whether you're creative or not, whether you have a thousand ideas or zero (All I had walking into my first novel was a first sentence) - it doesn't matter. You don't need permission. You don't need an English degree. Just bring yourself. Nano is a total joyride, and I want as many friends as possible to come along.
For those curious, my story will take place in Dicewood
, carrying on the tradition of putting multiarmed creatures in absolutely everything.