Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sherlocking NaNoWriMo.

November draws ever so near.

And with it, the annual November challenge. Why must we have so many months with challenges? Someone must have less to do than I. But like the hunting hound stuck in the house when the call to the chase sounds outside, I can't help but feel the pull of it.

National Novel Writing Month -- "NaNoWriMo" -- is coming once again, and some happy folk have even got a Sherlockian Twitter feed, tumblr site, and IRC channel (whatever that is -- sounds like some old school internet) focused on the Sherlockian side of creating a novel in a month.

Having been to the well-attended writing workshop sessions at 221B Con, I know there are more Sherlockian writers out there than ever before, if the number of authors with existing Sherlock books on Amazon or MX Publishing sites weren't evidence enough.  It's really quite intimidating . . . or maybe just redundancy-feelings-inducing. We have sooooo many words now that you no longer need paper and ink to get them in front of other people's eyes. Why does the world need mine? (A completely ridiculous question from a man who spews so many into the blogosphere every month.)

And yet the challenge of the November novel beckons. Especially after you've done it once. Marathon runners have their reasons, and so do novelists. There is pain, there is frustration, but there are also those moments that are so pure, so Zen, and so full of actual magic ("Where the hell did that come from?") that you crave going back into the arena once again.

My previous November novel, which I'm trying to remember if anyone has actually read, was a prequel to a novel that I've started about four times and never made it past the fourth chapter. Holmes and Harth is the title of that novel, a tale of a fellow who gets a very special collectable in the mail one day . . . something that very well may be the taxidermied corpse of Sherlock Holmes. Or something much more intriguing. That novel never seems to get written.

But during NaNoWriMo, I got the prequel Harth of Peoria, which was combination treasure hunt, runaway bride romantic comedy, and conspiracy novel whose greatest flaw is that halfway through the novel, the main character sort of lost interest in the supposed love interest and fell for what was supposed to be a minor character. I had great fun writing it, letting a plot grow organically, and even discovering I might have psychic powers in the pure Zen state of intense writing. That novel is only sitting as a Word document on my hard drive, with a CD backup, of course, but I'd still do it all again.

I've already got a November commitment this year: the West of Baker Street experiment. And I may see if I can push 50,000 words out of that just to see if I can pull NaNoWriMo off a second time with a Sherlock bent. But the as with the rest of this year, November might be a troublesome beastie from forces outside of Sherlockiana and writing, so we shall see.

But if you think you might have the writing mojo to pull off a novel this November and you've never done it before, I'd really encourage that you give it a try. It's so much safer than climbing Everest, but it's an accomplishment you'll enjoy having on your soul long after, even if no one ever reads the result.


  1. Never heard of 'National Novel Writing Month.' Sounds too strenuous for me. I recently finished my farce 'A Study in Puce' - at one chapter a week, but that means it took 14 weeks - though my (few) readers thought that was FAST. NaNoWriMo might work, if they changed it from 30 days to 30 months (or years)

  2. Bonnie MacBird author of Art in the Blood told us last night at the Friends of the SH Collections Annual Meeting that she wrote the first draft of her book in 30 days, 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. So we can all hope. Good things can happen.