Calling all creative minds… Let’s novel!

National Novel Writing Month is about to begin. This annual event pits you against your inner editor (troublesome fellow: more on him below) to write 50,000 words – the equivalent of a novella – in one month. Millions around the world have attempted it; hundreds and hundreds of thousands have “won” by getting to 50,000; I’ve been in the winner’s circle various years, and this year I’m going to make it again. Care to join me? (Sign up here: If you sign up, “friend” me – I’m Keruin on the site. Then, just remember: you, too, can write a novel. That’s what these folks are all about.

Don’t worry – your novel doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it’s better if you just manage what’s known in the industry as a

Shitty First Draft

as writing goddess Anne Lamott puts it. Otherwise, you slow yourself down. Literally. Just. Puke. It. Out. Already.

That’s how you get through November, that’s how you get started, that’s how you sneak past your inner editor (there he is again!), that’s how you end up with a lump of clay that later (say, December!) you start moulding into actual capital-A Art.

If you think too much about Art in November, you’re bound to stifle yourself.

I have a fledgling idea for my novel this year, which I will share as it develops. My niece gave it to me, like a tidy little gift, without even realizing what she was doing. It’s a little bit silly, which was what drew me to it. It’ll have suspense, car chases, flying, maybe sword fighting and battles to the death with iocaine powder. But I know from NaNoWriMo experience that the start is easy, compared to the middle of the month. I’m going to need your help to keep my writing flowing and unpredictable.

So what do I want from you?

Well, if you’re not going to be neck-deep in your own novel, how about putting the “crowd” in “crowd-sourcing”, for mine? I’ll take any and all ideas, and incorporate them in this new masterpiece.

  • Say you had a bad day and your “anal-retentive, perfectionist boss with his fugly narrow ties” told you you’re on probation? Send me a description of him.
  • Or, you’re pretty sure you found a piece of a Soviet satellite in your backyard. Yeah, it looks like a sprinkler head, which was how the Soviets – at first! – got ahead of us in the race to space.
  • Or, on your way to the grocery store you were “assaulted by a band of mimes”?
  • (It’s okay if you’re just imagining these things. I don’t need the truth: I need inputs.)
  • I may send particular requests – like, “Hey, how about a nasty nickname the dragons give the unpopular dragon at school?” or “Anyone know how a whooping crane might have reacted to a fireworks show?” If I annoy you with questions that can be resolved with a simple google search, you may school me.

You can send a funny name you thought of, an image or meme you liked, an idea for a story or a scene, a phrase, a palindrome, an imagining, a fear, a wish… anything that strikes you. I will find a way to incorporate it, in whole or in part, into the narrative I’m writing for NaNoWriMo. You get credit if ever the thing gets published (like on this here website!). You will also have my undying affection, plus immortality, all for telling me what shape your yogurt resembled this morning! Or, literally, whatever!

Exceptions to whatever

Of course I’m not going to use anything bigoted or mean-spirited. If you’re reading this, you already know that. Also, nothing on our Moron-in-Chief or his evil friends.

About that inner editor I mentioned:

Everyone has one: like Freud’s Superego, who sits on your shoulder and tells you what’s right and wrong so you can get along in society. Everybody needs a few rules. It keeps things in line. But in the act of creation, too many rules can smother the flame. You’re thinking about the grammatical structure – whether or not it is “correct” – instead of about the pirate ship or the romance or the third moon of Saturn that you want to write about. Or you’re thinking your pirate Saturn romance isn’t plausible. WHO CARES? It’s fiction for a reason! You can polish later. Right now what are we doing? We’re puking it out! Yay!

I was thinking about my own inner editor this morning, and what he is like. Yep, it’s a he, I don’t know why, but he is masculine. Actually, he’s a hammer. That’s my image, and I’m sticking to it. Here are some tactics I’ll use to keep him off my back during November:

  1. I’ll imagine the hammer but instead of the spiky claw of the hammer head, it’ll have spiky multicolored dreadlocks.
  2. I’ll picture an inflatable hammer, inexplicably decorated with the members of KISS, that someone won at the fair.
  3. I’ll stand up to it and say “No. You do not have the right to speak to me that way!” My therapist would be so proud.
  4. I’ll picture my hammer being lost in a crowd of bigger hammers, frightened and intimidated and unable to find its momma.
  5. I’ll salute the hammer as if I were a character in M*A*S*H, who doesn’t take authority or conformity all that seriously.
  6. I’ll be a wily whack-a-mole mole who slides away and hides when the hammer tries to bonk me. The hammer gets really mad! Infuriated even! Ha ha ha!

There are certain people – cousins, for example, and people I’ve met on overseas assignments, and U.S.-based weirdos, who I expect to chime in with their suggestions on this thing, because you’re strange, you think odd thoughts, and you love me. So… let’s get cracking!

Come swim in the novel pool with me!

And – hey! This is the inaugural post with my New Web Design and layout and all that lovely stuff. Thanks to Bakerview Consulting for awesome, dependable service as well as splash-bang-kapow moments like this new design, using WordPress Smoothie Theme.