Writing for amateurs, bowling for vampires

Should I go with the classic “You like me, you really like me!” or the even more classic “Thank you, thank you very much”?  Of course, my novel will deservedly never see the light of day, so my National Book Award acceptance speech is not a major concern.  (However, if I ever need a book jacket photo it’ll be black and white and include my Scottie dogs).  

I’m nevertheless thrilled to have reached the 50,000 word goal for National Novel Writing Month–three days early.  I was spurred on to completion by the artistically motivated realization that the Christmas lights won’t put themselves up.

Responding to my description of the story line, a couple of colleagues have said, “That really does sound like an interesting premise” and “I’d read that book!”  All of which proves an important point: I have wonderful colleagues.  But I already knew that.

Here’s what I did learn:  apparently journal-keeping really is as vital as all those professional writers have claimed.   I never progressed beyond good intentions to start a writer’s journal and realized in the course of creating my novel–many times–how useful a collection of impressions and details could have proven to be.   

I did, however, collect enough thoughts about the novel-in-a-month scheme to compose several new slogans for NaNoWriMo; these definitely reflect the ups and down of the sometimes exhilarating, occasionally despairing experience: 

  • “Sleep is overrated.”

  • “The caffeine deficient need not apply.”

  • “Just make it stop.”

That said, I’ll try NaNoWriMo again.  I enjoyed inventing characters and developed a deeper understanding of novel construction.   Also, repeat participation would bring me closer to other would-be and published authors.  The writing community can be a powerful source of support, and not just for other novelists.

This November 2011 article from Library Journal provides a great illustration from Bouchercon, the annual world mystery convention.  Teams of authors and related participants (including Charlaine Harris’ Bowling for Vampires team) competed and auctioned their autographed shirts to raise $29,000 for a local library foundation. 

The authors’ good works didn’t end there.   Attendees voted on and presented the annual Anthony Awards for mystery writing; check out the 2011 winners here.   If you’re on the lookout for the very best new mysteries, bear in mind that awards highlight up-and-comers along with established stars, so readers will also get great leads by consulting the Shamus and Macavity Awards lists.   Finally, for a comprehensive overview of the mystery genre, don’t miss Anthony Award winner (for best website/blog) www.stopyourekillingme.com.

My own valuable prizes include a colorful certificate proclaiming me to be a “Winner” in NaNoWriMo 2011–and an opportunity to catch up on my sleep. 

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