Today is a really special day for one of the members of my writing group, Elementary Writers. Jennifer C. Wilson’s début novel, ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London‘, is released by Crooked Cat Publishing.
To celebrate her publication, Jennifer has kindly agreed to appear on the blog today to talk about the process that started it all off: NaNoWriMo.
Over to Jennifer to explain all about it! Congratulations, Jennifer, and thanks for appearing on the blog.
To Boldly NaNo?
Every November since 1999, writers around the globe have been signing up for the gloriously mad challenge that is National Novel Writing Month, or “NaNoWriMo”. I first took the plunge in 2009, following the advice of a friend, and was delighted to hit the magical 50,000-word target with only a day to spare. It was fun. It was exhilarating. It was rubbish. My dialogue was terrible. Not a lot actually happened, despite having a plot full of twists and turns, and I told everything, hardly showing a thing.
Reading it back now, the adaptation of a plot first dreamt up so many years before, there is clearly some semblance of a story, some decent characters, even a theme, but the writing quality is dreadful. Yet, that isn’t the point of NaNoWriMo.
The point is to have a go, and, if you manage it, to come out at the end of the month with 50,000 words that you can review, revise and edit the life out of. It is a very rough draft, the first cut, in need of a lot of refinement – but if you think about it, you cannot edit what you haven’t written. One day, I’ll go back to my first attempt, but I know for a fact that my second ‘win’ in 2013 was significantly better, mainly thanks to the rubbish I wrote in 2009.
In 2013, I tried harder. Focused on the quality, even though you’re meant to ignore your ‘inner editor’ for the duration… I got lost in my ideas, became obsessed with my characters, and generally had a fabulous month with them all.
And I think that showed. Don’t get me wrong, it still needed a lot of work, but when I read it back, it was a pleasure, not a cringe-inducing wreck of a text. As a result, I felt it was worth spending more time on, giving it a thorough edit, and hopefully, a bit of a chance in life.
Part of it was written during the Elementary Writers workshops, and when the time came that I finally felt brave enough to share, having that feedback was invaluable. It especially helped me through that necessary evil, the synopsis. I am not good at synopses.
After almost two years, it was ready to be released into the wild, and I’m thrilled that Crooked Cat Publishing took it on.
Knowing how much it helped my writing, I’m already working on my plot for NaNoWriMo 2015, and cannot wait to get started.
About ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London’:
A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers…
In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Tudor Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews.
Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury.
With so many characters haunting the Tower of London, will they all find the calm they crave? But foremost – will the young Plantagenet Princes join them?
About Jennifer Wilson:
Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.
Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of Creative Writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online.