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November is National Novel Writing month

Feather River Bulletin of Quincy, California

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In nearly every town in America there are desk drawers and shoeboxes under the bed with notes and journals that were going to become novels. Maybe there's even half a novel started in a desk drawer. Many people fantasize about writing the great American novel.

Not as many people who fantasize about it actually do it. November, however, is National Novel Writing month and in that spirit, if you're one of those people with an aforementioned desk drawer, perhaps it's time to take the novel out of the drawer.

If you do it in November, you won't be alone, as over 325,000 people around the country are doing the same thing.

Nanowrimo, the organization surrounding National Novel Writing month, believes gut-wrenching self-doubt deserves company.

In 1999, writer Chris Baty, along with 20 other writers in the Bay Area, decided to write in community rather than isolated in their bedrooms. "We had taken the cloistered, agonized novel-writing process and transformed it into something that was half literary marathon and half block party," Baty said.

That sense of fun carries over into the organization's crest logo, which features a shield and a Viking helmet. On the shield are the four essentials to writing — paper, pens, laptop and coffee.

The first event in 1999 has evolved over time. What started out as a simple gathering of friends has turned into an international month-long event with a nonprofit organization in support.

Participants now register at the website and use various applications on the site to track their progress. There's a word counter, a support group, articles to read, badges to earn and cheerleading emails to keep the participant going when times get tough and writer's block sets in.

The result has been phenomenal. Due to word of mouth and blogging, each year the events surrounding writing a novel in a month have grown.

The idea behind nanowrimo isn't about quality — most creative writing professionals would say that quality comes in revision. Instead, a nanowrimo participant vows to complete a rough draft of 50,000 words — the size of the average American novel — in one month's time no matter how bad it is. That averages to 1,666 words a day.

A few well-known novels began as nanowrimo projects. Most notably, according to the website, are Sara Gruen's "Water for Elephants," Erin Morgenstern's "The Night Circus," Hugh Howey's "Wool," Rainbow Rowell's "Fangirl," Jason Hough's "The Darwin Elevator" and Marissa Meyer's "Cinder."

There is also a Young Writers Program on the site geared towards students in junior high and high school with lesson plans for in-school projects and events.

Bookstores, libraries, cafes, bars, restaurants and community centers have all played host to "Come Write In" events where writers gather with paper and pen, tablet or laptop, to spend some solid hours writing with or without caffeine.

In the northern Sierras, most events will take place in Chico and Redding. So far, 1,062 people are registered as writing in this region — which includes Plumas County.

In Plumas County, a small Come Write In event will take place on Sunday, Nov. 15, at the West End Theatre in Quincy, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Copyright 2015 Feather River Bulletin, Quincy, California. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015

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