This month, local coffee shops and libraries may experience a surge in visitors diligently typing on tablets and computers.
November is National Novel Writing Month – nicknamed NaNoWriMo – and more than 6,000 people in the Charlotte region are trying to write a novel in 30 days, according to Sherry Rentschler, the municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo’s Charlotte region.
National Novel Writing Month also is the name of the nonprofit that issues the annual challenge worldwide, and Rentschler said participants often prefer to work at libraries or coffee shops.
“At home, things call to you,” she said. “The laundry goes (she makes a whistling sound). The dishes go, ‘hey.’ ”
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Rentschler, a published author from Mint Hill, completed the NaNoWriMo challenge in 2012 and 2013, exceeding the 50,000 words required to be considered a “winner.” Those novels haven’t been published, she said, but she has had books of poetry and photography published. Her most recent is “Paper Bones,” a book of contemporary poetry that has won several awards.
She said she’s written her last book of poetry, and is now focusing on fiction.
The novel she’s writing this month for NaNoWriMo is “Breaking the Glass Slipper,” which she describes as “autobiographical fiction.”
As municipal liaison, she has organized events for NaNoWriMo participants to meet one another, write together, and share ideas and tips. The first event, a kickoff at a Pineville bookstore, attracted a diverse group of about two dozen writers – most of them experienced “Wrimos,” as participants are called.
One of the Wrimos at the kickoff was Dee Pixley of Indian Trail.
“I did try to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge one other time about seven years ago,” Pixley said in an email. “I got off to a great start but faded quickly. At the time I was working two jobs (flight attendant and insurance agent) and had a small child at home. It was just too much to do with not enough time in the day.”
Her daughter is now 10 years old, and Pixley is down to one job: flight attendant. That still doesn’t allow a lot of spare time to write, but she’s tackling the challenge with renewed determination.
So is her daughter, Kendall, a fifth-grader at Fairview Elementary School. Kendall is participating in NaNoWriMo’s Young Writer’s Program for writers 17 and younger.
Kendall is writing a book she’s titled “The Journey to Atlantis,” Pixley said. “It is a youth fantasy/adventure novel.”
The book also is the first in a series called “The Chronicles of the Daughters of Zeus.”
Pixley said her book is a paranormal urban fantasy with the working title of “On a Wing and a Slayer.”
The mother-daughter dynamic adds a helpful dimension to the challenge.
“She is a great motivator for me as I want to be a good example for her, showing her ways to set goals for herself, learning about the creative process of writing, and having fun at the same time,” Pixley said. “We had a lively discussion coming home from school…. We talked about the synopsis for our novels and what we had in store for our main characters…. I was amazed at her creativity and she teased me about how overly dramatic my synopsis was. I think she’ll make a great editor one day.”
Pixley said she and Kendall set aside time every day to write, and have made daily word-count goals.
Pixley and Rentschler said the NaNoWriMo program offers a lot of help.
“I love that NaNo has many tools to help motivate you, challenge you, and cheer you on,” Pixley said. “Writing can be a solitary experience, but it doesn’t need to be with NaNo. You can befriend writing buddies, attend write-ins and meet-ups, and use message boards to get inspiration, clarification and tips.”
Participants sign up through the NaNoWriMo website, where they track their progress and get words of encouragement. Those who achieve 50,000 words or more during the month are declared winners, making them eligible for deeply discounted products and services from sponsors.
Rentschler said it’s possible that even someone who reads this article – and starts late – may be successful. People have started halfway through the month and succeeded, she said.
When the month is over, participants should continue to edit and improve their novels before submitting them for publication. Rentschler said participants typically take December off and then start revising their novels in January, which is sometimes referred to as “NaNoEdMo” for national novel editing month.
According to the NaNoWriMo website, more than 250 NaNoWriMo novels have gone on to be traditionally published, including “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, and “Wool” by Hugh Howey.
With any luck, Rentschler and the Pixleys will become success stories.
“My husband of 21 years, Frank, is our biggest cheerleader,” Dee Pixley said. “He thinks it would be great to have two authors in residence. He wants us to write some best-sellers so we can all move to a tropical island.
Then she added, “Hopefully the laundry won’t pile up too high while we attempt the challenge.”