A group inspires writers to birth a book in 30 days.
Thursday, November 9, 2006
Back in the 10th grade, Monterey’s Al Stegall was instructed to write the first chapter of a novel as an assignment for his AP English class. Over the next 12 years, Stegall joined the military, got a college degree and started a family, but the whole time he was still pondering that novel.
A couple of years ago, Stegall decided it was time to put the novel, which is about a North Korean woman who is held in a political prisoner camp, down on paper. He finished about 15 pages before petering out.
But, last fall, Stegall learned about National Novel Writing Month while on the Internet. A Web site, located at nanowrimo.org, puts aspiring novelists in touch with other writers living in their area and gives participants the goal of writing 50,000 words, or 175 pages, during the month of November. That’s over 1,600 words a day, with no days off.
Stegall realized that a community of writers and a strict deadline was exactly what he needed to write his novel. “[NaNoWriMo] gives you people to bounce ideas off of,” he says, “but it also makes you accountable.”
After signing up at the organization’s Web site, Stegall started meeting with other participants at local coffee shops like Morgan’s and Café Noir every Tuesday night. Stegall, who works as a security supervisor at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, reached the 50,000-word goal in the first 10 days of last November. He kept writing, and by the end of the month, he had a 362-page novel titled A Leaf in the Wind. Now he is getting ready to send the manuscript to an agent.
This year, there are already 20 local aspiring novelists signed up for National Novel Writing Month. One is Stegall, who is trying to decide whether his second work will be a satire on reality television or a sobering look at a woman grappling with domestic violence.
JOIN THE FREE PROGRAM anytime during November at nanowrimo.org.