I can’t believe I haven’t written anything in this blog about NaNoWriMo! Maybe in one of the earlier iterations of my blog? But I don’t know.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s an Internet event which takes place every November, when aspiring novelists challenge themselves to write 50,000 words of fiction in the 30 days of the month. That’s 1,667 words a day. You’re not competing against anyone else, just against that (hopefully nearing) target. And you ‘win’ NaNoWriMo by reaching that target.
I’ve done NaNoWriMo 8 times, and won 8 times. I find the challenge gives me a great incentive to actually get some long-form writing done. It gives me the opportunity to be truly creative, and that has always been an almost mystical experience. I can start the project with hardly any idea of where it’s going, and then something magical happens. It’s like going out into the Wild Wood and ‘finding’ Story that is already there, meeting Story that comes towards you and embraces you like a fairy lover. Or whatever other image appeals to you. It makes me believe.
Of course, real writers sniff at a mere 50,000 words – that doesn’t make a real novel, they say. At best you might call it a novella. But I rather like the discipline of making a story and bringing it to a conclusion within that length. So here are the titles of my works over the years:
Dark Messiah – 2005
My first NaNo, which I wrote the month after Dad died, partly as a kind of grief work. It’s a fictional telling of the life of the biblical King Saul, told by 12 of the people who knew him.
A Month of Living Vicariously – 2011
This may be my favourite of all time. It concerns librarian Adrian Burrows, and takes the form of his diary during the month that he is doing NaNoWriMo. The research he does for his Excellent Plot results in three people trying to kill him, his conversion to Christianity, and his falling in love with his boss. I don’t know about anyone else, but I found it very funny. It still makes me laugh.
(Spoiler alert: Adrian doesn’t win NaNo. But he does get the girl.)
A Book of Changes – 2016
My Esperanto novella, written out of my anger over the Brexit vote, and what I believed would be the downfall of civilization as we know it. Our hero Joseph gets out of England while he still can, and embarks on a picaresque journey across Europe which leads to the discovery of the true heir of the Emperor Charlemagne, and the restoration of the Holy Roman Empire. The evil media mogul and would-be world dominator Marduk is defeated, and everyone lives happily ever after.
Blood Will Out – 2017
What happens if you are convinced your blood is tainted, that your genes are fated to produce generation after generation of evildoers? This fantasy history of the last half of the 20th century and the first decades of the 21st describes the age-old battle of Good vs Evil, and the final (?) triumph.
This is the only one of my completed novellas which has been ‘published’, because I wanted to learn how to produce a Kindle book. I did it! Though I wouldn’t be able to remember how. And it is available for purchase either as a Kindle book, or a print-on-demand paperback.
Latinitas – 2018
What if the Roman Empire had never fallen, and still ruled the world in the 20th century? Told by a Celtic British young man, Marcus Trinovantius Faber, this recounts how he is recruited by the Roman secret service but becomes part of a plot to overthrow the Empire, free the slaves, and make Christianity a legal religion.
Telling My Beads – 2019
Not a novel at all, but a memoir of my life and faith, and what I believe(d) – at the time. I haven’t revisited it recently to see if I still do believe it.
The Mild-Mannered Librarian Returns – 2020
Adrian Burrows has married his lovely boss and they are still working together at the library. There they discover a plot to use the powers of magic and the occult to overthrow the governments of major world countries and take control for their own secret organization.
Sadly, this is the only one of my NaNos that I never finished. I ‘won’ all right – it’s over 50,000 words long – but I couldn’t think of a way to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. So as far as I know the plot to overthrow the world’s governments and install autocratic dictatorships is still operational. You’d never think so, would you?
Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones – 2022
Why are there so many religions? What was God thinking of? This is the story of the heavenly Watchers appointed by God to observe, and possibly even steer, the different world faiths. At the beginning of the 21st century, when religion seems to have become toxic, and is perceived by many as part of the problem rather than part of the solution, this story provides some answers.
I’m quite pleased with this one too, but wonder if it may be too controversial to publish.
You might have noticed that all of them are about God in some way. I just can’t keep God out of it! (The strapline of my blog may give you a clue why.)