I hope all of my readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving -- ours was rich with blessings, lots of corn pudding, a few cranky kids (and adults), and the annual Christmas card family photo shoot. It went surprisingly well for a gathering of 12 people, including three under age 4 ( I will post the photo closer to the holiday).
But for those of you wondering where I've been, there was more to my November. Ever heard of National Novel Writing Month? The slogan for "NaNoWriMo" is 30 Days, 50K Words, No Excuses. This "virtual" event captured me two years ago when I wrote 50K words of my first novel. Then let the book languish, but this year I made November 2014 the month I finished my first draft of The Braid and the Queue (working title), and it's now over 100,000 words.
It was wonderful to be a part of this creative cyber community, although most novel writing is a solitary pursuit. It also takes focus, which is the reason I stopped posting. NaNoWriMo did give me confidence and structure. The novel is inspired by my great-grandmother, Johanna Kennedy, who immigrated from Ireland in 1881 with her husband and two sons, the youngest of which would become my grandfather. I stuck to those facts, supported by a ship's manifest that my dear genealogist friend found online, and what little I remember of visiting my mother's childhood home in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.
The rest is fiction and, boy, was it fun to get to know my characters, who are now as real to me as family and friends. At a certain point, they took over and narrated the story. I just wrote it down. When my writer's group told me they liked how I resolved a certain issue I was dumbfounded and replied, "But that's just what happened."
When I started it was a lark - I never thought I"d make it. But NaNoWriMo made a believer of me. There is something to setting an audacious goal, a nearly unrealistic time table (and, in truth, the 30 days just got me started -- the novel took two years and counting) and knowing hundreds of thousands of people around the world are doing the same. (In 2013 over 300,000 people took part in NaNoWriMo.)
When I get the first draft back, I'm looking for readers to provide feedback. Let me know if you have an interest in becoming an early reader (I will limit it to about 10). Also tell me if you know a legal historian, because I need more research on how the courts operated in 1890s Luzerne County, PA.
And now back to our regularly scheduled blog.