Vernon Area Library hosts novel-writing marathon
Children’s author Michele Hurwitz of Buffalo Grove
National Novel Writing Month
Vernon Area Public Library, 300 Olde Half Day Road, Lincolnshire
Nov. 1, 6:30 p.m.: Kick-off meeting and sign-up, plus “Ten Things You Need to Know Before You Write a Novel.”
Nov. 14, 6:30 p.m.: Mid-way party and mentoring by children’s writers Suzanne Slade and Allan Woodrow.
Nov. 26, 6 p.m.: “Write-in: Hurry Up and Finish!”
Dec. 1, 1 p.m.: “Thank Goodness It’s Over Party!”
Events are free; registration recommended.
(224) 543-1485 or visit http://bit.ly/nano2012
Updated: October 24, 2012 10:44AM
Unless you’re Jack Kerouac on Benzedrine speedwriting On the Road, composing an entire novel in one month seems to be an unlikely feat.
Nonetheless, roughly 200,000 people around the world will be attempting just that this November, pledging to write a minimum of 50,000 words as part of the annual (National Novel Writing Month) nanowrimo.org creative writing project. Two to three thousand will be participating in Chicago, including 25 supported by Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire.
“It’s definitely a challenge, but some people do this year after year,” said library spokesperson Roz Topolski, explaining why the VAPL decided to get involved for the first time this November. “We believe in supporting the whole ecosystem of literature, whether it’s writing books or reading books, or having authors come to share their work. We want to support the whole process and writing, of course, is an essential component.
“The whole point is to make writing, which is often a very solitary activity, become a more communal experience.”
That may account for the fact that nanowrimo, which began in 1999 with only 20 participants, has grown so rapidly and begun to have an effect on publishing.
Topolski pointed out that after 13 years, more than 90 novels written as a result of the program have been published, including two New York Times best-sellers — one of them, Water For Elephants, written by Sara Gruen while living on the North Shore.
The library has scheduled events throughout the month, with help from local authors. The kickoff event Nov. 1 (also the last opportunity to sign up for the program) will feature children’s novelist Michele Hurwitz of Buffalo Grove sharing “Ten Things You Need to Know Before You Write a Novel.”
“I think it’s a terrific opportunity,” said Hurwitz, who specializes in middle grade fiction and recently published her first novel Callie Be Gold with Random House (a follow up novel will be released in spring 2014). “It’s difficult, obviously, to write a novel in one month, so I’m not sure how many people actually complete a book. But I do think it’s a great jump-start. And then you’ve got a great platform to work on.”
Hurwitz said it took her six months to write Callie Be Gold after three previous unsold book, and another year to get it published. But she hopes her experience will encourage fledgling authors.
“I definitely went down a bumpy road,” she said. “So I want to tell them: ‘Don’t give up; you can get there too.’”
The other Top Ten tips in her lecture will include advising authors to select a space for their writing, an inviolable time to get words down on paper and a favorite totem that puts them in the mood—such as the old “writing sweater” Hurwitz wears whenever she sits down to write. She also will encourage them to “let yourself write badly at first; don’t edit it, write from your heart and just pour it out.
One of the VAPL’s own, children’s librarian Sue Pankowski of Deerfield, will be among the authors taking the nanowrimo challenge, along with some of her young book lovers, who will work toward a goal appropriate for their age group.
“Being a children’s librarian I’ve read so many books that I greatly enjoyed,” she said. “And I’ve always thought it would be great to be able to write something that gives other readers that same kind of pleasure.”
Pankowski has a story in mind, based on a character inspired by one of her favorite film actors, Jackie Chan. Her character will be a martial artist who dreams of becoming a chef and comes to America for an opportunity — only to become involved with forest creatures in the woods behind his restaurant who seek his help to fight an evil entity they have discovered.
“I know myself; I need a deadline,” she said when asked to explain why she signed up for the program. “This way I’ll know if I this is something I can or cannot do it. I think I can, with a little help.”