The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

National Novel Writing Month is my favorite time of the year. I see it as a month long holiday designed specifically for writers. A whole 30 days where we can justify putting our writing before pretty much anything else in our lives. A time when new friendships are formed, new worlds are created, and writers everywhere discover their limits – or lack thereof. A month of not enough sleep, way too much caffeine, and thousands of words (around 50,000 of them).

This will be my eighth year participating, my fourth year as Municipal Liaison for the Lawrence Region, and hopefully my seventh win. It’s kind of fun to think about: winning National Novel Writing Month seven times will mean I’ll have written at least 350,000 words during my writing  career.

So this November, as Municipal Liaison, I will be writing pep talks, hosting write-ins, spoiling my Wrimos with treats, cheering on those who are ahead and encouraging those who are behind, drinking way too much coffee, trying to fit in the homework assignments for my online class, and also probably finding new ways to procrastinate.

As for the novel writing part, I’m not exactly what one would call a pantster – one who flies by the seat of their pants, writing entire novels with no planning whatsoever – but I’ve never been an intricate planner, either. I usually have a general idea where I’m going. I’ll have some characters with compelling stories and lots of badness coming their way, maybe even a few key scenes and a rough outline of events, and I’m set for the month.

And usually my idea doesn’t come to me until anywhere from a week to a few days before Nanowrimo begins. Lightning will strike, and I’ll have my idea. It’s never failed me in the seven years I’ve won.

This year was no different. I was in a panicked state. I had about seven different story ideas but no desire to write any of them, and November was rapidly approaching. But then a brainstorm started brewing, and it hit me hard exactly one week and one day before November 1st. Last year it struck three days before, so I’m in better shape this year.

I still don’t know all of the particulars of this idea, but I know there’s a girl who volunteered to go to Hell in place of someone she loved, and after decades of incarceration, decides she wants to bust out. So she fights her way up through the Nine Circles of Hell – a reverse Dante’s Inferno with bloodshed, if you will – and if she actually does emerge victorious, bad things will happen on Earth. People aren’t supposed to be able to escape from Hell, after all.

I think this novel will have the feel of Dante’s Inferno meets Reaper meets Sandman Slim. It’s going to be epic. But more importantly, it’s going to be fun to write and I’m looking forward to it.

Almost as much as I’m looking forward to hanging out with all of my favorite writing friends all month!

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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