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Off the shelf @ your local library - National Novel writing month


By Kathy Pillatzki
Assistant Director
Henry County Library System

  Happy Halloween! And you know what that means… tomorrow is the first day of National Novel Writing Month! OK, maybe you didn’t know that. After all, November is known for that other big holiday. But now that you know, why not  celebrate?

  National Novel Writing Month (affectionately known as NaNoWriMo) is a project of the Bay Area Office of Letters and Light, a non-profit based in Oakland, California. Organizers challenge participants to write a 50,000 word novel, beginning work on November 1 and submitting it by midnight on the 30th. Everyone who meets the deadline is declared a winner!

  There are no judges, no prizes, and no quality controls. The only thing verified is the 50K word count. The entire point is to have fun with writing.

  How many of you have ever thought you had a story to tell, and “one day” you would write a book? By creating a one-month timeframe in which to write, NaNoWriMo organizers hope to give aspiring writers that little push they need to get started, and the deadline they need to get finished.

  Literary greatness is not the point. In the words of the organizers, “It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly….By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.”

  While the “quantity over quality” principle guarantees than many of the entries are truly awful, most participants aspire to mediocrity. And that’s OK. Part of the appeal is that everyone from published authors to rank amateurs can and do accept the challenge, with no particular advantage to the experienced writer.

  That’s not to say that nothing of quality has resulted from the experience. Award-winning novelists who have submitted finished works to NaNoWriMo include Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (Persistence of Memory), Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen (The Compound) and Sarah Gruen (Water for Elephants).

  In 1999, the first official NaNoWriMo, there were 21 participants and six winners. In November, 2011, there were 256,618 participants and 36,843 winners. And guess what? Three of those winners were from right here in Henry County! We posted information about the event on the Henry County Public Library System Facebook page, and three of our followers signed up and kept us posted on their progress. Rosie Lopez, Cherese Vines Cadet, and Elaine Brown kept us entertained with their updates and met the November 30 deadline.

  Would you like to be the next Henry Countian to brag that you’ve completed a novel? Go to, sign up, and start writing! That’s all there is to it! Follow us on Facebook and share your progress with your friends and neighbors at



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