Central Library hosts National Novel Writing Month every Monday | Los Angeles Public Library
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Central Library hosts National Novel Writing Month every Monday

James Sherman, Librarian, Literature & Fiction Department,

Stories matter. Everyone has a story in them and many have a novel just waiting to get out -- but how to start?  And once started, the difficulty of finding time or encouragement in this lonely process can be fatal to the creative urge.  If you count yourself among this tortured group -- as Kafka said, 'A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity’-- NaNoWriMo is here to help.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fiction-writing celebration that runs the full month of November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words (the minimum number of words for a novel) from November 1 until the deadline at 11:59PM on November 30. NaNoWriMo’s goal is to inspire people to start writing and keep them motivated throughout the process.  

Every Monday in November from 6-8 PM in Meeting Room A, The Central Library offers a haven for NaNoWriMo participants in which they may congregate, write, commiserate, and support each other as they toil on deadline to get their story out.  The Los Angeles Public Library also offers SELF-e, a self-publishing platform whereby the author’s ebooks can become part of the library's collection, so that enables patrons to read ebooks on any device, at any time. This free service is available to all self-published authors, no matter which self-publishing service(s) they use.

NaNoWriMo was founded in San Francisco in 1999; twenty-one determined novice novelists wrote their first draft in a month's time, as described in the introduction of the book No Plot? No Problem! After that month ended, a new idea began. As co-founder Chris Baty put it:

"...our novels, despite our questionable motives and pitiful experience, came out okay. Not great. But not horrible, either. And, more surprising than that, the writing process had been really, really fun."

The fun continues: Last year 325,142 participants, including 81,311 students and educators in the Young Writers Program, started the month as -- well, as many different titles: auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers, to name a few. At the end of the month, they walked away novelists. And over time, some participants have found success in their new vocation, most notably Sara Gruen, whose novel Water for Elephants was started during NaNoWriMo.

"National Novel Writing Month is a wonderful opportunity for people to dive into their imaginations and do one of the most crucial things in life: create," said Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month.  "Everyone has a story that needs to come to life, so the shelves of the NaNoWriMo library stretch endlessly. NaNoWriMo helps people find their voice in the act of writing and through the encouragement of the writers in the NaNo community."

Before she had penned her acclaimed novel Dead to Me, LAPL Librarian Mary McCoy participated in NaNoWriMo. When asked what she took from the experience, Mary said, "The most important thing I learned from doing NaNoWriMo is that inspiration is overrated. What matters is that you sit down every day and write whether you feel like it or not because that's how you finish a book. What's more, that's how you fall in love with the act of writing. When you do NaNoWriMo, you have to figure out a way to sit down at your desk for 30 straight days and write 1667 words that don't make you want to die of boredom. Some days will be terrible, but others, you will surprise, delight, and amaze yourself with how clever you can be under duress."

If you are interested in taking the journey, you can start by signing up at the NaNoWriMo website, and go from there. If you feel your inspiration flagging or you want to share in the excitement, or simply need a place to work on a Monday evening, come to Meeting Room A in Central Library between 6-8 PM each Monday.  

Happy Writing!