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Archive for the ‘Creative Writing and Literary Criticism’ Category

Last month I attended the Orange County Christian Writers Conference.  Having attended the event previously in 2012, I had vacillated before registering earlier this year.  My experience three years ago was a high point in my writing life, as an excerpt from my developing novel caught the attention of publishers and editors and won three fiction awards.  Astonished and elated, I had vowed to dedicate all my free time to completing the book and pursuing publication before the end of the year.

Within weeks, however, the demands of my career and graduate school and life thwarted all my good writerly intentions.  With my creative energy allocated to finishing my course work at Chapman University and numerous guest columns and blog posts, progress on my novel stalled.  There was simply no time to write more than a few chapters for my MFA workshops, and I labored over those small accomplishments.  While I did return to the novel at full speed in 2014 in order to fulfill my 150-page thesis requirement, I have often felt disappointing and even disobedient to God by not finding a way to finish.  Even worse, as the years passed, I began to diminish the merits of the recognition my excerpt had received and question what I had believed was my lifelong calling.  It shouldn’t be this hard, I thought.  Perhaps I heard God wrong.

I had a multitude of excuses for not attending this year’s conference, but a niggling feeling urging me to go prevailed.  I decided to register and attend Friday night’s activities.  I could always skip the Saturday workshops and appointments I had scheduled if I felt at all uncomfortable or out of step with the other attendees.  After checking in, I helped myself to a paper cup of coffee, said hello to my tablemates, and settled in for the keynote address by Sharon Elliott.

I liked her immediately.  She was boisterous and frank, assuring us that rejection and self-doubt would unquestionably be part of our writing and publishing quest, just as they were for countless bestselling authors.  And then she said the most powerful words of the night, the weekend, and probably my year: “Relax.  You heard right.  You’re in the right place.”  Wait, what was that?  Is she talking to me?  In case we missed it, she said it again: “You heard right.  You’re in the right place.”  And at that moment, I knew that I had and that I was.

The rest of the conference was just as propitious and exciting.  Significant connections and new friends were made, and complicated questions about the current publishing industry were answered.  I left on Saturday evening knowing exactly what I needed to do to continue the narrative I began so many years ago.  I heard about platform-building and social media optimization and online branding.  I learned how to submit to magazine editors and why it’s prudent to always maintain film rights.  I was even convinced to…wait for it…tweet, something I vowed I would never do.  Most importantly, I know that I haven’t imagined or misunderstood my calling.  I can relax, because I heard right.  He said “Write.”

 

ENFANT~1

 

This post was published first on the American Christian Fiction Writers website on May 14, 2015.  

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April is National Poetry Writing Month, also known as NaPoWriMo, an annual creative writing event that challenges participants to write a new poem each day from April 1 through April 30.  NaPoWriMo coincides with National Poetry Month, which is celebrated annually in America and Canada.

The project was founded by Maureen Thorson in 2003 and modeled after NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel in the month of November.  Since its inception, the number of registered participants has grown steadily every year, and many writers’ organizations coordinate NaPoWriMo activities.

For a comprehensive list of FAQs, guidelines, and daily prompts, visit the website at http://www.napowrimo.net.

Have fun, and good luck!

 

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Presented annually by the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, the Writers Studio brings together a community of writing students to workshop with some of Southern California’s most esteemed professional writers and teachers.

Participants select one of ten intensive four-day workshops in creative writing and screenwriting planned for the 2015 Writers Studio, including The Joy of Writing: A Workshop in Craft and Creativity, Writing the First Novel, Writing the Young Adult Novel, Accessing Your Stories in a Flash: A Short Fiction Writing Workshop, Writing the Personal Essay, and Writing the Memoir.  Enrollment is on a first come, first served basis, and each class is limited to fifteen students.

The Writers Studio fee of $940 includes enrollment in one four-day workshop February 5-8, a continental breakfast on Thursday, a special Saturday guest speaker event, and a Sunday reception.

For more information and to register, visit the website at http://writers.uclaextension.edu/programs-services/writers-studio.

 

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af•ter•math (ăftər-măth’) n. 1. A consequence, especially of a disaster or misfortune: famine as an aftermath of drought. 2. A period of time following a disastrous event: in the aftermath of war. 3. A second growth or crop in the same season, as of grass after mowing.

 

It doesn’t seem possible that it’s January again.  It feels like only a few weeks have passed since I wrote my New Year post for 2014 and acknowledged with trepidation and bittersweet sentiment all that would, with hard work and luck, come to fruition in the coming months.  Those were brave days, and it wasn’t at all lost on me that I had bitten off more than I could likely chew.

In addition to professional and personal events and milestones, this past year marked the culmination of so many long-pursued endeavors and academic “lasts.”  I took my last class of Chapman’s dual MA in English and MFA in Creative Writing program in the spring, a delightful independent study on seven major works of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  I wrote the last chapters required for my MFA thesis and defended it successfully in November.  I had my last meeting with professors I have revered and appreciated so intensely these past six years and stood in familiar classrooms one last time, memorizing the sounds and smells I’ve grown to cherish and rely on for inspiration.  Gazing out their windows that last day, I saw the ghosts of my Chapman friends who sat with me, night after night, glassy-eyed and starving, too, as they pursued their dreams alongside me.  A few are still there, but most have also graduated and moved on.  And, with a lump in my throat and a heavy heart, I walked across campus for the last time, feeling just as Billy Collins describes in “Writing in the Afterlife”:

 

I knew I would not always be a child

with a model train and a model tunnel,

and I knew I would not live forever,

jumping all day through the hoop of myself.

 

I had heard about the journey to the other side

and the clink of the final coin…

 

My classmates spoke often of graduation, calculating with anticipation how much longer until they finished their degrees and could get on with their lives.  I understood their eagerness to graduate; it is the objective of any academic program, after all.  But my situation was different.  Pardon the cliché, but I was there for the journey, not the destination.  For me, graduation signified the end of a creative existence I had spent half a lifetime trying to resume.  I was high on academia, and degree conferral loomed like an ambiguous buzzkill.  Consequently, I took my time through the program and didn’t think about finishing.  I wanted merely to be in the moment, sitting in classes and attending readings and flying to conferences and looking for hidden treasures in the library and studying and writing in blissful perpetuity.  And now it’s all behind me.

I’ve spent the last six Januaries preparing for spring classes, studying for the comprehensive MA exam, and writing my thesis.  With the program now completed, the usual frenetic velocity of the month has slowed, and I find myself with time to read and write at a more leisurely pace and reflect on what’s next.  There have been moments of panic since November, to say the least.  What will I do, and how productive will I be without writing workshops and professors and course deadlines to guide and push me?  I still have the English department’s marketing flyer from 2008 tacked to my bulletin board above my writing desk.  “Write your own success story,” it urged.  That had done it for me.  I enrolled that fall and proceeded to write my own narrative, nearly two hundred pages of which comprised my MFA thesis.  But the story isn’t finished, and I’ll need to dig deep to keep up the writing momentum on my own – to maintain the grass, so to speak.

Sleep will be somewhat of an initial priority.  I admit I’m tired.  Not so much my body, but my mind and my soul are simply sapped from the years of constant thinking and creating and feeling.  Completing this program is akin to finishing a great book.  You’re intellectually depleted, emotionally drained, and physically exhausted from staying up too late for too many nights, absorbed, but you’re also sad and sort of lost when you close the pages for the last time, and you hunger immediately for another great book, despite your burning eyes.

After a brief time of rest, a shiny new list with even loftier aspirations will undoubtedly emerge.  There are countless submission opportunities, conferences to attend, topics to research, short stories and blog posts and newspaper columns to write, my current manuscript to finish, and the seeds of a new novel to water and nourish.  And PhD candidacy beckons.  In the words of Lily Briscoe (ah, my dearest Lily!), where to begin?

So the New Year sans graduate school – at least for now – awaits its first mark.  And I am poised with pen, almost ready to make it.

Welcome, 2015!

 

"Admiratrice dans l'atelier" ("Admirer in the Workshop") by Étienne Leroy, 1885

“Admiratrice dans l’atelier” (“Admirer in the Workshop”) by Étienne Leroy, 1885

 

 

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The following post was cowritten with Ian Prichard and originally published on TreeHouse (“Awe, Anxiety, and the Anti-Oprah: An Evening with Jonathan Franzen”) on November 29. It has also appeared on At the Wellhead (“Oprahsbane”).

 

Jonathan Franzen was at the Newport Beach Public Library on a perfect fall night in late October, and so were Ian Prichard and I.

One of the keenest and most celebrated observers of the American condition of the century thus far, Jonathan Franzen is known equally well for his fiction (The Corrections, Freedom) as he is for his essays and reportage (How to Be Alone, Farther Away). Whether he’s translating Karl Kraus or detailing the plight of slaughtered songbirds or developing complex, comedic pitfalls for his fictional characters, one of Franzen’s main themes is disintegration: of society, the environment, literary culture. He’s been (not so lightly) chided by hoi polloi and the intellectual elite alike for his attitude, which is often read as snobbery – and which he’s just as often owned and defended: “Difficulty tends to signal excellence; it suggests that the novel’s author has disdained cheap compromise and stayed true to an artistic vision. […] Pleasure that demands hard work, the slow penetration of mystery, the outlasting of lesser readers, is the pleasure most worth having” (“Mr. Difficult”).

Time

Time

My writer friend Ian had spent the previous couple days at a writer’s conference, learning about SEO and platform-building and audience-generation and how you, too, can be a Published Author! and basically, like, how the timeshare actually pays for itself! after year six. He was actively looking forward to a little literary snobbery. I was submitting my MFA thesis, a 172-page excerpt from the novel I’ve been writing for the last six years, in four days and should have been home finishing the last chapter and critical statement. But this was Jonathan Franzen – my literary hero and intellectual idol of the same past six years – and he was going to be a twenty-minute drive away.

Neither of us was missing this, and neither was disappointed.

We’ll start where Franzen did, at the title of his lecture: “Storytelling and the Modern World.”

“You know,” he said, “they ask you to submit the titles to these things so long in advance. I thought, Am I not a storyteller? Is this not the modern era?” He shrugged, we laughed. “I can say whatever I want.”

“I was glad it wasn’t an interview,” he went on. “Interviews get annoying after a while. They ask you the same questions, none of which were interesting the first time.” But and therefore, he said, he was going to interview himself. He’d come up with and answered eleven questions no one had ever asked him before, some of which were fairly straightforward (his favorite joke) and others of which were a bit more complex. Like the very first question: “What role have envy and competition played in your life as a writer?”

“No one has ever asked me that before!” he said with glee, and was off. What followed were forty-five minutes of familial quips, societal harangues, collegial (and not-so-) jabs, self-deprecating jokes, and emotional admissions. This is our attempt to capture just a little bit of that.

ThecorrectionscvrIan Prichard: What most impressed me was Franzen’s honesty. Not just about his disdain for writers he used to envy – though his bits about Updike and Roth being worthy of his moral judgment were pretty good – but about his motives for writing. David Foster Wallace, for instance – Franzen said he started The Corrections the day after he finished reading the manuscript of Infinite Jest, and that he began working in earnest on Freedom as soon as he came back from DFW’s funeral, both as a kind of counterpunch. It was no surprise those two guys felt competitive; it was a surprise to hear Franzen say his dear friend “partly killed himself as a career move.”

Michelle Arch: It was, but I think that speaks to their relationship. In Farther Away, Franzen recounts one of the final conversations he had with Wallace: “I said that the last time he’d been through near-death experiences, he’d emerged and written, very quickly, a book that was light-years beyond what he’d been doing before his collapse.” Franzen alluded to this paradoxical connection between Wallace’s “depths of infinite sadness” and writing success.

IP: And he suggested that Wallace knew he would be even more successful posthumously. “That’s not why he killed himself,” Franzen explained at his lecture, “but he was smart enough to know what it would do to sales.” Which is brutal, but which was, in his telling of it that night at the library, also funny. One of the things we mention in the intro is laughter. There was a lot of it throughout the event. What’d you make of that? Were you expecting him to be so funny? 

MA: No. This is a guy who says things like “It’s hard to consider literature a medicine, in any case, when reading it serves mainly to deepen your depressing estrangement from the mainstream” (“Why Bother?,” How to Be Alone) and “To laugh well at humanity, both your own humanity and that of others, you have to be as distant and unsparing as if you’re writing tragedy” (“Authentic but Horrible,” Farther Away). So, no, I didn’t expect him to be funny. I expected him to be aloof and abstruse, which would have been perfectly fine with me. The humor was a surprise.

But I appreciated most how uncomfortable and somewhat awkward he seemed. When he was asked to describe himself in five words, he could only think of one: anxious. And he said it several times, remember? “I’m anxious. That’s really the only word I can think of to describe myself.”

Not believing him, there was a pause while we all waited for him to rattle off a varied list of four more self-descriptors, which would undoubtedly contain an adjective or two that resonated enough for each of us to nudge our friend or seat neighbor with a wide-eyed nod. Yeah, that’s me, too; I’m just like Jonathan Franzen. But he simply said “Yep, anxious” again. Another long moment passed as he seemed to be thinking hard of other possibilities, and then he gave up. “That’s really all I can come up with,” he said with a shrug.

Scarlet_Letter_-_Illustration_LogoI’m incredibly self-conscious myself and have been told that my discomfort in my own skin is actually quite observable, so I related to his answer. There’s a reason professional and aspiring writers are holed up in solitude most of the time. We’re a mess, socially. Franzen says he and Wallace agreed that fiction is a way out of loneliness.   

IP: You’re right, he did say “anxious” at least three times. But that anxiety didn’t keep him from performing, from cracking jokes and interacting with the audience, even parading around in imitation of the typical TED Talk stage presence. And I think that self-consciousness is a common attribute of scriveners, and I certainly understand the tendency towards solitude, but Franzen’s hardly a shut-in, and I think his presence on the world stage says a lot about what kind of writer he is.

For someone who so consistently and loudly disdains social media (in “Against Heine,” a translation of a Karl Krauss essay, Franzen confesses a sense of “disappointment when a novelist who ought to have known better, Salman Rushdie, succumbs to Twitter”), Franzen is discussed and debated and lionized and demonized all over the place. It’s a delicate balance between touring and appearing and writing and contributing to champion your own work and “fight the good fight” of promoting literature qua literature, and disdaining the overpopularization of writers and their work.

There’s no denying Franzen’s ability – the man can write – but the ability to do so is fairly well distributed across the population, and Franzen’s stuff is hardly breaking new stylistic ground. So why is he such a phenom? 

MA: Uh, because Oprah said so?   

IP: Well, yes and no. She’s definitely never hurt anyone’s sales.

Part of Franzen’s success, of course, is that he’s a white American male. And an intellectual New Yorker who was born in a small town in the Midwest – dude has coastal and fly-over appeal. On top of which he writes WASP family dramas, and WASPs love reading about themselves, and publishers know they can sell a lot of WASPy books. America may in fact be too diverse for there ever to be a real actual Great American Novel, but the country’s still predominately white, and if Time is going to label anyone the “Great American Novelist,” it’s going to be JFranz. (This is nothing new.)

Boomslang

Boomslang

And yet, Franzen presents as an unknowable, semi-obscure deity dragged kicking into the light. I know referring to someone as a “rock star” is hackneyed, but when your irascibility, elitism, and general middle-finger-to-the-worldness cause a number of people to hate you but many more people to love you, even – especially – if they don’t know your stuff, then perhaps the moniker is fitting. Keith Richards says “fuck you” to everyone, especially the music establishment and excepting a handful of blues players, and everyone loves Keif. He happens to be an incredible guitarist, but how many people who love him really know what that means? How many care? Franzen may not have the sordid drug and womanizing history as Mr. Richards (I’m not trying to say they’re much alike at all), but he did manage to talk down about Oprah’s book choices (“schmaltzy,” wasn’t it?) and be uninvited from her show (what a relief!), but remain on the Book Club list and see sales soar. So yes, the whole Oprah “thing” certainly helped.

So, speaking of “things” in quotation marks, how much of his persona are we supposed to buy, and how much see as performance? Is there a difference?

What do we make of the fact that he criticizes the American mainstream for desiring unliterary texts, yet still makes a killing writing family dramas that he insists are not, well, difficult? 

MA: The distinction, of course, is that they’re not difficult to him. And that’s both his point and his dilemma. His literary palette is that of DFW and William Gaddis and Dostoyevsky. In “Mr. Difficult,” Franzen recalls “Mrs. M.,” an angry reader who is outraged by his sophisticated vocabulary and overall level of difficulty in his fiction. Presumably, Mrs. M. represents the “average person” who is just looking for a pleasant reading experience, and the ostensibly elitist Franzen has failed her and the reading public in general with his “fancy words” and highbrow phrases.

Confronted with this reader’s hostility and apparent opinion that it is the consumer (alas, often via Oprah) who decides what constitutes good and appropriate writing, Franzen is conflicted. He presents two very different models of the relationship between fiction and its readers and admits that he subscribes to both: the Status model, which suggests that the best novels disregard the issue of accessibility and “invites a discourse of genius and art-historical importance,” and the opposing Contract model, which is based on the author earning and sustaining the reader’s trust and connecting with the audience. In the Status model, a high level of difficulty suggests excellence. In the Contract model, the author fulfills his or her obligation by entertaining readers; the relationship is founded on providing and receiving pleasure.

IP: Yes, I suppose that distinction depends on what you mean by “entertainment” and “pleasure.” For Franzen, and I think for anyone who actually goes back and reads them of their own volition, the novels of Dickens and Dostoyevsky are incredibly “entertaining” – The Inimitable in particular wrote them expressly for that purpose. And Franzen says in “Mr. Difficult,” “in my bones, I’m a Contract kind of person.” Tastes change with the times, I suppose, and I guess the question is what, exactly, is wrong with reading for entertainment? And, by extension, writing for those who do? 

Crime and Punishment Dual LanguageMA: I think it’s a slippery slope. As Franzen describes it in “Difficult,” “Contract is a recipe for pandering, aesthetic compromise, and a babel of competing literary subcommunities.” From my perspective, this is a polite way of indicating that writers who subscribe to the Contract model may need to “dumb down” their work to appeal to the least common denominator of readers in order to sell books. As both a reader and aspiring writer, I’m offended by the notion that authors may need to supplant complicated, unfamiliar text with two-syllable words and well-known phrases to ensure that the majority of the reading public is able to enjoy a “good read.” After all, intellect can be transformed and often is through reading complex and challenging books. I have a multitude of hard books on my bedside table and shelves that I’m still slogging through, and, for me, it’s the hard that makes them great, at least partly.

IP: I have to disagree; I don’t think that hardness is a gateway one has to pass through into greatness. And I think that Fra—wait, did you just quote A League of Their Own in your defense of Franzen’s literary difficulty?

MA: I was wondering if you’d catch that. You’ve got to admit that’s an excellent line from a pretty great Contract movie. I suppose I could have better underscored my Status advocacy with Emerson. “’Tis the good reader,” and all.

IP: I’ll admit that it may be an apt allusion. A League was a compelling story, and a decent script. I’m sure they could have found much better actresses than Madonna and Rosie and Geena Davis, some real Status actresses that might have better brought those characters to life, added some complexity and dimension, some real gravitas – at the very least, some believable tears. But how many people would have seen the movie without those Contract personalities? How many people – how many guys – would recognize a quote from it twenty-some years later?

MA: Yeah, I’m fairly impressed.

IP: My point is that it begs the question, what’s “great”?

In that article we keep referring to, Franzen also says each reader is “ultimately […] alone with his or her conscience.” And I think this is true of writers, also. We make choices about every single line we commit to paper. What we’re going for with those choices, what we hope the book will accomplish, influences each of those choices.

How will this sound to a reader? 

To what kind of reader?

How much do I care? 

MA: And, one of my favorites, How much of my characterization of real people is going to offend or hurt those people?

HowtobealonecvrBut then I guess it all really comes down to your third question. As Anne Lamott quips in Bird by Bird, “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” During his lecture and in Farther Away, Franzen addressed the issue of loyalty and how his own family felt about their obvious depictions in The Corrections, particularly his oldest brother: “The question then becomes: Am I willing to risk alienating somebody I love in order to continue becoming the writer I need to be?”

IP: Man. My family hasn’t shown up in my fiction much (yet), so I haven’t had to think about that too much. Thankfully.

Maybe we don’t ask these questions every time we look over each sentence, but they color the attitude we bring to the writing desk. Except for a very few pure-genius types (who no one will probably hear of until they’re dead, and who probably don’t care), we’re all answering that third question, if we’re honest, with something between “a fair amount” and “it’s everything.”

The problem is that second question, and wanting our conception of the perfect target audience to number in the multiple-millions. Franzen seems at times to imply that he wants there to be more people like him, readers who don’t want cheap tricks and actively want to work for their pleasure. And he gets accused of impressing that effort on people. But the Mrs. Ms of the world aside, the line-by-line writing in his books is nothing anyone with an eighth-grade reading level can’t comprehend (okay, maybe he’d need a dictionary every thirty or forty pages, but that’s hardly an insurmountable barrier) and Franzen actually does have multiple-millions of readers.

If I can borrow the movie’s phrase, a lot of people think Franzen thinks of himself as being in a league of his own. I’m not so sure he thinks that – he’s no blue-collar champion of the workingman, but I don’t think he’s as much of an elitist jerk as some folks make him out to be. I am sure, however, that he thinks of himself as belonging to a cadre of people who get pleasure out of a certain kind of book.

MA: I’m certain that you and I wear that cadre’s insignia.

IP: Absolutely. And I don’t know, I think that even if the reading of “literary fiction” and “serious novels” becomes a “cultish” activity vis-à-vis “mainstream” culture (forgive all those “”s – you can tell how fraught I consider labels), there’ll still be a lot of people in that cult.

MA: And apparently they’ll all be recognizable by something more than a metaphorical badge. I’ll never forget the book signing part of the evening. We waited in that line for, what, twenty or thirty minutes? And when we stood in front of Franzen at last (I all starry-eyed and semi-lovestruck, imagining the dinner parties we would throw), he just stared at us.

“You guys wouldn’t be…writers, would you?” he asked finally. It was as if we had spilled writer juice on our shirts or something. I swear I looked at your forehead for a mark or tattoo or scarlet “A” – for anxious.

“Working on it,” I think I stammered self-consciously.

IP: You weren’t the only one stricken – if this were another time and ours another profession, I would have asked for an apprenticeship.

It’s funny what things one remembers – and what counts for encouragement in our rather solitary pursuit. I’m sure it was simple civility, but what made an impression on me was how sincere he sounded when he handed us our books back and said, looking at us over the top of his glasses, “Well, good luck.” 

 

479px-Jonathan_Franzen_at_the_Brooklyn_Book_Festival

David Shankbone, 2008

 

 

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Four months ago, I bemoaned the fact that 2014 was half over, and I had not written any new chapters (“This is That Summer”). The novel I have been crafting intermittently for the last six years, Time of Death, is also the thesis for my Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at Chapman University, so the pressure to finish has been intense, to say the least.

In January, I carefully planned the year, as I always do, dedicating the first five months to the enormous reading load for my last class at Chapman and an overdue and ostensibly quick and simple home remodel. The entire summer, September, and October were allocated to completing and submitting the manuscript by the fall deadline of October 29.

At the time of that post in June, I was fifty-five pages away from finishing the narrative and needed to write a ten-page critical statement of my work, as well.

I dug in.

My writer demon was ever-present, scoffing at every new bit of dialogue and mocking every plot twist. I ignored him and focused on my protagonist, Fawn Evans, and on telling her story. The work has been both exhilarating and excruciating as new chapters were written and old chapters were revised seemingly ad infinitum to achieve cohesion.

Revision, I have found, is an exasperating, interminable process, especially for a perfectionist; I am never unreservedly pleased with any passage, so any declaration of its completion is nebulous at best. Even now, as I admire the bound manuscript I will be delivering to my thesis committee tomorrow, I know that, within the span of thirty or so days, innumerable deficiencies will have been identified and addressed with mortification at their untimely discovery.

That fact notwithstanding, I am proud of this journey to date and excited about the opportunity to defend my work in November. As both the author and heroine of this immense project, I am rooting for Fawn on each page and, in doing so, am rooting for myself.

 

Paul Hoecker-Vally, 1888

Paul Hoecker-Vally, 1888

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With the first of November just around the corner, writers everywhere are stockpiling food and saying farewell to their family and friends as they prepare to hole up in their writing caves until December 1. November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, an annual internet-based creative writing event that challenges participants to write a new 50,000-word novel in thirty days.

The project was founded by Chris Baty in 1999 with twenty-one participants, and the official NaNoWriMo website was launched the following year. The number of registered participants has grown steadily every year, and the affiliate Young Writers Program and official podcast were developed in 2005.  In 2010, over 200,000 writers registered for the challenge, and nearly three billion new words were written.  A summer version of NaNoWriMo (Camp NaNoWriMo) was introduced in 2011.

Many of us in Chapman University’s MFA program have impending thesis deadlines, and the NaNoWriMo challenge gives us the perfect opportunity and support to complete this critical component of our degree requirements, particularly if we have decided to start a new project for the thesis or complete a novel rather than a collection of short stories.

The novel can be on any theme and in any genre. However, it cannot be a project already in progress.  Writing of the new novel cannot have commenced prior to midnight on November 1, and the 50,000-word mark must be reached by 11:59 p.m. on November 30.

For a comprehensive list of FAQs and guidelines, visit the website at www.nanowrimo.org.

Have fun, and good luck!

 

NaNoWriMo

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