NaNoWriMo - Writing for a Living. Draft 2

TRX: Nano welcomes a wide range of participants. Some, like me, whose novel never quite gets off the ground. And others, on the other extreme, who have quit their jobs to write as a result of their participation in the event. Take Lisa, in Silicon Valley, for example.

ACT: (Lisa) When my 2005 nano novel, I was really liking it and thinking that this is something that if I finished it and edited that somebody might want to publish.  And so I decided that I could or would leave my job.

TRX: Or Roz, as a result of her participation in NanoWrimo 2002.

ACT: I started writing again.  And it really all to do with turning 30 and having a bit of an early onset midlife crisis.  And I always intended to write a novel before I was thirty, and I hadn't managed it.  And that's what got me into doing my first Nano.  And over the intervening five years I just realized that the writing meant more to me than the job. They wouldn't let me go to part time.  And I guess I called their bluff on it.

TRX: I asked Sarah, in Berkeley, California how her family reacted to the news.

ACT: (Sarah) At first they were very skeptical and didn't undersand why I would need to quit something that was stable and secure and paid my rent and let me even write.  A lot of questions were like why don't you write for the newspaper or what's different about this?  But once I laid down the law and said this is something that I have to do, everyone got on board and was very helpful.

TRX: Good to hear someone laying down the law for writing.  But I wonder, if it all went the way these writers expected it. As Lisa told me.

ACT: (Lisa) It's a lot harder than I thought it was going be to focus on writing and not procrastinating. It's easier to write with a deadline and with a support group like you get with nanaowrimo and going to writins and stuff like that.  So I've been trying to develop some of that on my own.

TRX: I asked Roz how she kept up with this kind of discipline.

ACT: (Roz) It's very helpful as a motivating factor to be surrounded by  other people who are writing and not to think that I'm the only person who is going to sit down and hammer out all of these words of fiction, that it's a collective process.  I attended Clarion West in seattle in the summer which is a workshop for writers of short ____ fiction.  And I hit that workshop at a point when I was quite depressed and struggling with it and was not sure the novel was worth all the trouble it caused me.  Was it worth having given up my career.  Was it worth having essentially wrecked my marriage.  And those people convinced me that it was worth carrying on.  That I had something that I needed to be true to and that I shoud push through and not burden the novel with all of the responsibility for everything that had happened in my life and to allow the novel to be what it was and to express myself through it. 

TRX: I then asked them what impact participating in Nano had on their life and their responses were unanimous. Lisa, it's your turn.

ACT: (Lisa) I really like doing this I really hope that writing novels is going to be my career for the rest of my life.

TRX: Roz was a bit more reflective.

ACT: (Roz) In 2002, when I first sat down to do my first nano, i did not expect anything of it.  I had a week to prepare, because i didn't hear about it until it was starting.  I didn't think I would get through it.  I did not think it would be so much fun.  And I didn't think that it would start this whole train in process... That now I'm looking to become a professional writer.  Which is what I want to do with my life.

TRX:    Sarah, how did writing a novel change your life?

ACT: (Sarah) ultimately I don't Feel like it's about the new york times bestseller's list for me, it's about connecting with people and feeling like you've communicated something and someone out there is feeling like yes, that makes sense to me I see the world that way too.  So, if I can do that I'd be elated.

My whole life is different since last year when I quit my job.  I live in a different town.  I have a different job now that I love.  And I have a book that I'm actually not embarrassed to show to people.  So, it's pretty fantastic.

TRX: So there you have it, advice and experiences from three seasoned Nano veterans. For NanoWrimo, I'm John Tynan in Arizona.