50,000 words in 30 days
Would-be novelists accept speed-writing challenge
Kathy Cano Murillo Oct. 27, 2005 12:00 AM
Don't expect to see E.J. Runyon for the month of November. And forgive Amoury Lowe if he looks a little tired at Thanksgiving dinner.They're among about 200 aspiring wordsmiths from the Valley who will ditch loved ones, sleep, TV, partying and maybe even eating to pound out a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. They're taking part in National Novel Writing Month this November.
There are no prizes, trophies or guaranteed book deals. But if these folks are diligent and determined, at the end of the experience they'll be able to say they wrote a novel.
"Everyone should be forced to try this because it is so freeing," says Runyon, a 48-year-old software engineer from Scottsdale. After four years of participating, she has established a routine for her speed-writing: hide out at a friend's house in Nova Scotia for the month."You can be creative for the entire amount of time," she says. "You can keep away from everybody for a really good reason. Next to a 7-year-old with crayons, we don't see that very often."
National Novel Writing Month was launched in 1999 with 20 participants. Six completed the task. This year, more than 60,000 people from the United States, the United Kingdom, Asia, Canada and Australia will participate.
Mesa's Michelle Gregory has vowed to give up surfing the Web for the month so she and her 11-year-old son can complete the writing marathon.
"My two boys are very excited that I'm doing a story," says Gregory, 42. "They asked if this meant that I would have a book in the library. My oldest son is helping me with my plot and characters. He even made a map of my fictitious world. "If I feel like giving up, I know they won't let me get out of it."
Lowe, 18, of Scottsdale, doesn't have to worry about kids when he tackles the event for the first time this year. The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport worker begins college in January and plans to write every night after work, until 4:30 a.m. "Last December I was planning on writing a book, but it never happened," he says."The deadline gave me a reason. I hope to finish. If anything, I hope to get the patience it takes to get out 50,000 words in that short of time."
National Novel Writing Month was started by Chris Baty, 32, of Oakland, and 20 of his friends."Writing novels is just way too much fun to leave to the professionals," Baty says. "The largest success story of it all doesn't have to do with getting published. It's when somebody who maybe spent their whole lives loving books but was actually terrified at the thought of writing one discovers they can do it."And they also discover it is amazingly fun."