So much for the loneliness of the long-distance runner

National Novel Writing Month? Me?

Normally, I’m one of those skeptical of the enterprise, the idea that a jillion people checking in online and pushing out 50,000 words had anything to do with producing quality work. Still, over the years I’ve thought of doing it, worried about it, then as I put aside the idea that fiction is what I do, mostly cheered on a friend or two from way on the sidelines.

But now, if I’m going to fulfill my contract with University of California Press, and deliver a 110,000 word nonfiction narrative by January 1 – desperate measures are called for. So when I got a note from the online community Red Room about participating in NaNoWriMo, I had one question: “Does it have to be fiction?”

The FAQ says nothing about nonfiction, so I decided to take the plunge.

After all, I just stopped calling myself a “novelist” three years ago. My book has plots, characters, more themes than you can shake a stick at and is as vivid as I can make it considering I can’t make shit up.

I’m hoping that adding the structure and mass mutual cheerleading of NaNoWriMo to my daily practice will add to my determination to produce against all odds – with little else that matters. I have six chapters, a prologue and an epilogue nowhere near drafted – and that doesn’t count fact-checking and revision. It’s still impossible. I’m still determined to do it. If it takes a jillion writers in a jillion cities, well, I never did put much stock in all that stuff about the loneliness of the long-distance runner.

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