Today we welcome Danny Coleman as our guest blogger. Danny is an accomplished journalist and radio personality. Last month, he was invited to his first NaNoWriMo write-in. As many NaNoWriMo participants review their accomplishments and ponder next steps, we hope this post will re-ignite your passion to edit and publish.
November is National Novel Writers Month, more commonly known as “NaNoWriMo.” When first heard, the anagram possibly sounds like language from a strange planet, or perhaps more like a line spoken by Robin Williams in the old “Mork and Mindy” television series; rest assured it is neither.
According to its own web site, “NaNoWriMo is a fun seat-of-your pants approach to creative writing.” Every year, beginning on November 1 and running thru November 30, people from all walks of life and professions are encouraged to take on the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel over the course of those thirty days. Skilled, unskilled, amateur or professional writers are all welcome to “hunker down” and push themselves towards the finish line in this truly unique literary experience.
The Central New Jersey “WriMos” are one of five “NaNoWriMo” regions and are led by Bridgewater resident Bill Patterson and Richenda Gould of Plainsboro; two very enthusiastic writers in their own right and known as the Municipal Liaisons. From their vantage point at the Hopewell Branch of the Mercer County Library in Pennington, the duo sits amongst their fellow writers and would be novelists, urging them on through various activities like “write- ins” and “word wars.” “You wouldn’t think it because we’re in a library but this really is like a social event,” said Gould.
On this particular day, there were ten participants, a tad higher than the seven to eight that has so far been the daily average. Patterson, a married father of two boys, was the focus of the day’s event as he was the self-imposed “Monkey in the Box.” Putting in an eight hour shift with one fifteen minute break per hour, Patterson accepted the task of writing 10,000 words during that time frame. “I’m averaging about 1,400 per hour,” he said. “The only difference is that I’m writing and all of my words are being projected on a big screen so that everybody can read them, hence, I am the Monkey in the Box. I am under a microscope; it’s a challenge but fun.” “Yes it’s a true public forum,” chimed in Gould. “His written words projected on the big screen for all the people to see, we hope it’s inspiring.” I was afforded the opportunity to participate in an hourly guessing game; guess the total number of words that Patterson will write during the current hour and get to name a character in one of his novels. I came within a hundred words but was bested by another in attendance.
The clicking sound of furious fingers tapping away on laptops was quietly deafening as each would be author applied generous amounts of pressure to themselves to reach their word goal. Pennington resident Shelley Seymour, a married mother of two daughters, real estate referral agent, blogger and self-published author has written five previous novels and got her start because of “NaNoWriMo.” “I’m from Canada,” said Shelley. “I was educated through the graduate level in English Literature from Ottawa Canada where I took creative writing, this event, “NaNoWriMo” got me into this. I’ve now got my own publishing company and I’ve done it pretty much on my own. I figured a literary agent, even with a good one, major publishing companies only accept one out of every twelve hundred to two thousand books; I’ve published five on my own and I got started at an event like this.”
Sarah Sensenig, 29, a married vocal music teacher and like Seymour, a Pennington resident, has only begun writing in the last three months. Sarah is penning a “Dystopian Sci-Fi Romance” because it’s her favorite genre. “My husband is a music teacher at Pennington School; I graduated from Princeton’s Westminster Choir College and my mom was a writer, she wrote a book when I was in third grade and she used to make me read all the time. I never minded because I love to read, I did then and still do now. I started writing for fun and I got hooked. I’ve attended a writing workshop here at the library and decided to come back for “NaNoWriMo.” This is a great thing, I’m glad that I’m doing it.”
Librarian Ross Holley, 22, participated in “NaNo” in high school and enjoys seeing the writers come and go. “I’ve been a librarian for the last seven years and I’m currently in Grad School, so my time is limited but if it wasn’t, I’d be right with them. I love seeing it drive extra traffic to the library, love the write-ins; it’s always good to have something going on here.”
According to Patterson, he has big plans for the Central New Jersey Region “WriMos,” “I registered for my first “NaNo” in 2007. During the registration process an entire plot, seemingly all 50,000 words came to me, I thought, I can do this. From there I became more involved and eventually thought, why not? I became the Municipal Liaison for Central Jersey Region and when I teamed up with Shen it just got better. I want to have a “Write All Night” where we get going around 6 p.m. and finish at 6 a.m. I want a large venue where we can have a huge group of writers take part. I want this in addition to the smaller library sessions. That’s my job, I dream big and Shen makes it happen!”
To obtain more information about “NaNoWriMo” or the Central Jersey Region, please go to www.nanowrimo.org or www.facebook.com/cnjwrimos.
Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program called “Rock On Radio,” which airs Sunday evenings at 10 p.m. EST, on it he features indie/original bands, solo and unsigned artists and entertainers in a laid-back atmosphere. There are live performances, interviews, phone calls and interactive chat rooms as well. He has been a guest on many radio and television programs. You can find Danny, his radio show and his writings at the links below and his weekly print column can be found in The Trentonian newspaper: