My Blog

October 18, 2015

On NaNoWriMo

The National Novel Writing Month begins in November and I wonder what on earth I’m doing signing up for it. Is it an inspiration or is it punishment? The point is to write 1,600 words a day for the month of November and come out with a book at the end. Although I am already getting up at 5 in the morning to write on two other novels, I decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo.
I felt like it was serendipity since I have been promising to write the book on Bernardo de Gálvez for nearly a year. I had been waiting for the completion of Gonzalo Quintero Sarabia’s dissertation so I could read what he had to say about Bernardo.
Several things came together all at once this week–Received the dissertation, ordered another novel and Bernardo and tried out writing 2,000 words in one of my morning sessions. I could do it.
Last week I attended the Katy, Texas meeting of the NaNo writers. It’s a good thing I listen to Audio books while driving because the drive from Huntsville (70 miles north of Houston) to Katy which lies on the very farthest reaches of West Houston only took me three hours. I could have driven to Austin faster. The traffic on Loop 8 and then out I-10 was stop and go. I did eventually find the Panera Bread where the meeting was being held.
Of the thirty writers at the meeting, several had done NaNo before. Wendy and Vicky, the two organizers of the West Houston writers were graciousness itself. They have both been involved in NaNo many times – one 11 times and one 8 times. To my surprise, neither one has published anything. Neither had anyone at the meeting. Most of the people in attendance could have been my grandkids and all had stars in their eyes over writing. None had published.
Only one Canadian woman was self-publishing a series of six YA novels. She claims she has paid to have the book edited. It will cost her something around $12,000 to have it printed. I hesitate to use the term “published” as I don’t feel that self-publishing is worth a flip. I have read too many self-published books that are horrible—poorly written, and poorly edited. Judge Ed Butler’s book on Gálvez in particular in which I did not find a single page that didn’t have errors and misstatements.
Feeling let down and unimpressed, I came home from the meeting fairly certain I could make the grade of getting a novel written in a month. Turns out it is not really a competition. No one reads your work. No one judges your writing. You get a T-shirt if you finish the 50,000 words. Lez was wearing his from last year. It says “Winner.” And this is a prize? But on the up side, you do have a novel written which is my goal.
The other serendipitous occurrence was that Mary Anthony’s sister Molly sent Gonzalo Quinteros’ thousand-page dissertation from Spain. Now, I have no more excuses about not knowing the information. It is overwhelmingly scholarly, of course, it is a dissertation after all, and it is in Spanish. So my work is cut out for me if I am to read it between now and November 1st.
Then Teresa Valcarce introduced me, via e-mail, to a Spanish writer who has also just written a novel on Bernardo de Gálvez – La Libertad de los Valientes. I have ordered a copy and will see what his sounds like. Also in Spanish.
I’ve also been reading Joe Bunting’s very supportive e-mails and blogs about finishing a novel for NaNo. Now it’s my turn to come up to snuff—to finish the race—to climb the mountain, to top Mt. Everest—to complete the promised book on Bernardo. Meanwhile, I’m still working on the Spanish Rebel – about Rodrigo and the American Revolution, and The Feud on the Castillos in Texas.
AND I am also trying to get back on the technology bandwagon of posting daily blogs on my beautiful web site, done for me by the delightful Ken Shipley. I’m calling this my warm-up writing exercises. So, here goes!

About Caroline Castillo Crimm
Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!

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