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NaNoWriMo & NYPL: Meet the Author!


Throughout the month, we'll be profiling some NYPL patrons who are participating in this year's National Novel Writing Month. Please visit for more information and inspiration, and get writing!

What is your name or pseudonym?

My user name is Nellachronism, but I go by Nella in most other things.

What borough do you live in? And are you planning to attend any of the NYPL Write-Ins?

I live in Queens, and the plan (and sincere hope!) is that I'll be at the Library write-ins on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons.  The Friday night write-ins will be the most interesting to try and get to, mainly as I don't get out of work until six p.m.   We shall see if I can get to the library before the clock strikes 7!

What is the title of the book you are writing for NaNoWriMo 2010? 

The working title is "The Tale of the Two Toymakers:" not very exciting, I know, but that's why it's a working title.   I promise the story will be much more exciting!

Does it fall under one or more genres? If so, what are they? 

It's a fantasy, but really more of a fairytale adventure story.   There won't be any dragons here, but there WILL be bogies.   And crooked men.   And orphans.   The orphans are how you know it's a fairytale, after all.      

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo before? If so, what was the best part of the experience? 

I've participated in NaNoWriMo since freshman year in college (2003).   There have been so many exciting moments since, but the best part was the first time I ever won a NaNoWriMo, and reached that 50,000 word mark.   I managed it while I was studying abroad in Italy—maybe all those 19th and 20th century writers were onto something!  I think it might be that Florentine air…

Who are the main characters and how do they fit into the story?

The main characters are a brother and sister by orphanage, and the oldest of their other orphaned siblings.   They're the ones that gave up their chance for a Proper Adventure when they were of the proper age to do so (13 years of age, if you must know) so that they could provide for their adoptive mother and many siblings.   But they find out as the story goes on that an adventure can happen whether you're the proper age for it or not! 

Is your book based on the style of any well-known author? 

What are some of your favorite books? My own writing style is heavily influenced by writers like Terry Pratchett, P.G. Wodehouse, G.K. Chesterton, and Roald Dahl—although I'm more the pale, poor imitation of them, the sort of flattery I don't think anyone would really be keen on. 

I was re-watching Jim Henson's Storyteller recently, however, and realized how much I'd already begun to think of my story in that fairytale/storyteller "voice."   It's a very wordy, and yet lyrical style: there are a good number of repetitions, a far amount of babbling, but it is a pleasure to write and to read back aloud…when handled properly (and I never said I could handle it properly).   I think it's a style that's going to be quite helpful when I need to throw as many words on the page as I can manage in a day! 

How much pre-writing have you done so far?

I've done about 10 days worth of word prompts to get myself back in the writing mode, which are usually 10-15 minutes sprints of writing as much as I can using a prompt as inspiration.   I've also outlined my story, start to finish, but I haven't STARTED writing my story (that's cheating!)   Other than that, I've been too busy with other things to do much else.

What do you think will be the hardest part about completing your NaNoWriMo novel?

I have a really strong desire to not just reach 50000 words, but to actually finish a story this time, something with a proper beginning, middle, and end.   But my biggest concern is managing time so I CAN write; now that's another thing that is going to be a trick and a half to accomplish.    

Any famous quotes, encouraging words, or other advice for your fellow NaNoWriMo writers?

When I was in high school, I was writing a novel, and I shared it with my English teacher, unfinished though it was (…and unfinished it still is).   She wrote a quote of G.K. Chesterton at the top: "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly."   She was also quick to warn me that that DIDN'T mean I could go about something without putting any effort into it, so my English papers had better not see any sudden drops in quality, thank you very much!—

It's taken me until now to really appreciate what Chesterton was saying (and what she was trying to impart onto me).   NaNoWriMo is absolutely, unequivocally the embodiment of that quote, blown up into 50,000 words and shoved into 30 days.   My parents and many others wonder why I bother with NaNoWriMo; aren't you just creating a whole lot of schlock?   What an insult to literature! 

But it's worth doing, because through NaNoWriMo you are doing something of worth.   You're CREATING something!   You're putting words on paper and they MEAN something!   You're telling a story!   The literary merit of that story I'll leave to critics and academics, but it's still a story, and it's yours!   Maybe you've spent a lifetime with it cluttering up your head, maybe it hit you all at once like an ACME-brand anvil.   But this is your chance to do something with it, and whatever you do with it is still better than having done nothing at all!

Do it poorly, do it hopped up on caffeine, and candy, and so much tea you can feel it coming out of your pores.   Do it until your wrists scream for mercy and your hip joints have frozen in a sitting position (actually, don't do that, be sure to get up and stretch, take a walk, let's have no embolisms here).   But you'll have done it!

And it'll have been worth it. 


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