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Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Kersley Fitzgerald

Is this your first NaNo? How many have you done? How many have you won?

I’ve done and completed every NaNo since ’07. I did ’07 alone, and only after found out my best friend in town did NaNo, also. I’m typical first-born-check-all-the-boxes, so I feel guilty not finishing them. Just sucks ‘cus whatever workout groove I’ve finally gotten into in October goes out the window.

What's your story about for this NaNo?

My story is a three-way weave. There’s an apartment manager who’s actually an Orc who meets a social worker who gets a call on a magic phone from a mom in Nebraska who can’t find her son. There’s also a wizard stealing emotional communication cortexes (whatever the heck those are), the daughter of Aphrodite, and talking cows. One talking cow, in particular, who’s married to a frog who can’t talk because frogs don’t talk. My goal was to tell an entertaining story that was also delightfully goofy and didn’t take itself too seriously.

How did you come up with that story?

It’s a conglomeration of three things: a dream I had about a woman who finds a telephone that transmits calls from people’s heart-broken cries, a submission for a group story about an Orc detective in Chicago and his tiny flying dog, and the experiences my super-creative friend had moving to small-town Nebraska. Unbelievably, it’s all working out.

This year, as always, I didn’t know what I was writing about until the very last moment.

Do you intend to finish the novel, or are you using it more as an exercise?

I’ll finish it. I haven’t finished the last two—the ’08 one because it got really complicated (although it has the potential to be pretty good), the ’09 one because I’m not sure I like it. But, in between NaNos, I have finished three other novels.

What do you like about NaNo?

Writing is so solitary; it’s nice to meet up at the regional write-ins. I also like that my bf-in-town, Mangycat, does it, but she had to drop out this year. It’s like running a marathon. It’s not that it’s particularly enjoyable to run 26.2 miles, but you get bragging rights for the rest of your life. And, actually, it’s easier than running a marathon.

How do you compete in NaNo and not lose your mind?

I have a different strategy every year. The first two years, I just spent the entirety of November freaking out. Last year, knowing we were going to the in-laws’ for Thanksgiving, I resolved to write 5000 words total, Monday-Friday, and 5000 words each on Saturday and Sunday. I think the most I wrote was 8500 words in one day. This year, I totally relaxed, trying to keep it to about 2000 words a day unless I got too far ahead, in which case I took a day off. I still managed to pass 50,000 on the 27th. I also cheated. Some of the words were from two different short-story-beginnings that I added in. I did that because those words needed to be where I put them, and because I didn’t include any of my fulfilled plotting in the word count.

Anything else for the hobbitses (and hirsute elves)?

If you want to compete, but have a hard time getting the words in, it’s perfectly fine to plot before November 1st. Figure out characters, flow, even chapter outlines. And if you cheat and start early or use previously written materials, there’s a name for that—just call yourself a “Rebel.”

Thousands of people around the world pass 50,000 words every year. There is a student in Virginia who, as of this writing on the 29th, is standing at over 25,000 words. If you question her one 200,000-word day, there is another writer in Maine who breached 200,000 words, making this her fifth win in a row. Even if you stick with the more realistic goal of 50,000 words, you can do this—if you want to. If you don’t want to, you can’t do it.
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