Sunday, November 15, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Taking It Up Several Notches

Taking It Up Several Notches
By Jocelyne Allen

I started my first NaNoWriMo with my head stuck in the armpit of a Japanese businessman.

Working in downtown Tokyo and living on the east side equals a long commute, and I had the misfortune of being on one of the busiest commuter routes in the dense city.

So each morning, I shoved my way into an already full train, hoping only for a strap to hang onto. Sitting was never an option. With my face literally pressed against someone’s back or chest or (worst case) armpit, my options for the next hour were rather limited.

Then November came and gave me something to think about other than whose elbow was in my kidneys. As white-gloved station attendants crammed people in suits into my train car, pirates and cats fought armies of petticoated girls in my head. Arriving at my desk, I ignored the stack of papers waiting for me and frantically pounded away at my keyboard, trapping the armies on a virtual page before they slipped away. And then after a ten-hour workday, the same routine in reverse, only it was the laptop in my one-room apartment that took the beating.

Excited eyebrows up the moment I saw the word count trip up over 50,000. High fives and gold stars to me and that was the end of that. Except that the pirates shanghaied me. A hundred thousand extra words later, they set me free. And the result is a book called You and the Pirates, published this past September by The Workhorsery.

NaNoWriMo is harder this year without the long, boring commute--maybe all the bad breath and armpits were an inspiration to me. But updating my word count on the NaNo site still gives me the same glee. Focusing on how many words I write rather than the quality of the words lets the story slip out of me. A story which apparently includes a town where soap flakes fall like snow.

A Japanese translator based in Toronto, Canada, now after a decade in Japan, Jocelyne Allen actually gets paid to read comics (and turn them into English). Her first novel, You and the Pirates, was just published by Toronto press The Workhorsery ( Click here). This is her second time taking on the NaNo challenge.

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