NaNoWriMo - Writing for a Living. Draft 3
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 tens
of thousands of words under their belt... and who even quit their jobs to write.
Take Lisa. She worked for an internet company in Silicon Valley. She
participated in NanoWrimo in 2005, and has been working on her novel ever since.
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 quit my
TRX: She decided to take the gamble and quit her job to finish writing
her book, Overworld, about a woman falling in love for the first time. She found
a few challenges along the way.
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. I do have a friend who is writing as her career
for the moment and we get together once a week and we talk about writing and sit
in a cafe together and write like the writeins that we have during
nanowrimo. And that helps a lot. I know at least on those days I'm
oing to get a lot of writing done because I'll be sitting there with her and
getting writing done.
But she has no regrets.
ACT: (Lisa) I really like doing this I
really hope that writing novels is going to be my career for the rest of my
TRX: But for others, taking the leap to quit working and write a novel has had a
bigger impact. Roz made a comfortable living managing a team of database
developers in England. But she was conflicted. She wanted to write her book
entitled Boa Constrictor, which she describes as a sci-fi novel set in a
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.
TRX: She went to her bosses and asked for time off to devote
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: That was back in 2002. She had no idea what she was getting herself
(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: Five years later, she's almost finished with her second draft. But
writing - and being a part of NanoWrimo - has changed her life. She no longer
lives in England -- she now describes herself as a nomad, staying with friends
and family. She's also divorced - -something that happened partly as a result of
her decision to write. this past summer, she fournd herself re-evaluting her
commitment to her novel when she attended a writers workshop in Seattle.
(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
TRX: For others, the transition to writing fulltime wasn't that much of a
stretch. Take Sarah. She was a print reporter in the Bay Area. She wrote
full-time, but it wasn't satisfying her creatively. When she decided to quit the
newspaper to devote time to her novel, her family needed to be convinced.
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. She's now
polishing her second draft of Careers in Geography, which she calls a work of
literary fiction about figuring out what you want to do with your life after
the way she's had to redefine her measure of success.
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.
TRX: Sarah says her life is totally
different since last year, when she quit her job. She moved, and now works for a
ACT: 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.