NaNoWriMo: My Favorite Month of the School Year

NaNoWriMo:  National Novel Writing Month.  It's this insane idea that you can write a novel in a month.  I discovered NaNoWriMo in grad school (another Raymond Johnson contribution) and as a writer, or non-writer, or wanna-be-writer, it has always served me well.  But the past two years I incorporated NaNoWriMo into my eighth grade English narrative unit and it was been my favorite lesson/series of lessons ever.  The young writers program has great curriculum to help students or anyone who wants to try to write a novel.  The first time I saw the young writer's handbook, I wished I'd gotten something like it during my mfa program.  Last year I managed to draft a YA novel, and this year it's historical fiction, but what amazes me most are the stories, the sentences, the scenes from my students.  Here are a couple samples.

from Shattered Glass by Denise:   

At school it was like he wasn’t even there.  Teachers always skipped his name as if they were seeing right through him. 

Sam hated his life he hated the way they treated him like a ghost, as if he was the one who died in the car crash.  

Sometimes he would wonder if he had died and his ghost was still lingering in the real world and he just didn’t realize it. 

from Sports Addict by Hunter:  

Yelling. That's the noise that I wake up to every morning. My parents fight non-stop like two wild dogs. Every time I make a mistake, in school or just “mis-using” my knife at the table all I can hear is my dad and mom yelling. “Clyde Little this and Clyde Little that.” It’s all thanks to my stupid choice and addiction.

These are only a few lines from two of 60 novels my English students worked on last year and there are 65 more in progress right now.   Best of luck to anyone doing NaNoWriMo this year; I really should get to work on mine. 


Through Eyes Like Mine Mix Tape

So I was inspired by Raymond's 50 State Mix Tape and decided my forthcoming literary work (otherwise knows as Through Eyes Like Mine, a quiet book passed on by most major American publishing houses) needed a soundtrack.  So in order to build on a little buzz for the book's release here are some songs to set the tone for the book.

Through Eyes Like Mine starts with an epigraph of the first line from this song.

It's a Small World at Disneyland was the only ride I wanted to ride when I was two and made my first trip to the happiest place on earth.  Too bad I wasn't so happy.

Failure in our family was congratulated with an evil grin and the chanting of "Dunt, dunt, dunt, another one bites the dust."

Chet, Laura and I were in a production of The King an I at a small theater in Bend.  Maybe Anna inspired my teaching career when I was four.

My third grade crush and I both loved Devo.

For some reason my childhood memories of this song aren't of Cat Stevens, but of church on Sunday morning.  We went to St. Francis every Sunday.  Never missed.

The other song that plays pretty constantly through the memories of my childhood is the score from To Kill a Mockingbird.

Chet introduced my whole family to U2 in the mid 80s.  I remember hearing this song blaring from his bedroom.

This mix tape got me really excited about getting back to work on Overdue Apologies, the middle school memoir that's next in line.  There will be some fabulous 80s pop in that one.  Hope this odd collection of tunes makes you want to read my quiet little book.


My Decision to Self-Publish and Why I'm Sticking With It

After finishing my MFA I had a pretty solid manuscript in hand.  It felt done.  It felt different and real and I didn't cringe (too much) as I read over the draft months later.  So I shopped it, landed an agent and thought, there it is!  My book, written, sitting with an agent and she will make publishing happen!

Of course things didn't quite work out that way.  My agent was great.  She got the book to editors at big houses who read it and although they thought the book was beautifully written, it was a little too quiet or not quite what they were looking for.

That's okay.  I didn't write it for any of them anyway!  I wrote it for me.  But I also wanted Oprah to pick my book for her show and now she's almost done with her show and she won't be able to promote it.


But from what I hear, the publishing world is all sort of wacky turvy right now.  E-books and e-readers and Snookie getting a book deal.  Snookie!  And it's so easy to self-publish.  And so affordable.  I can do it on my own.

Except then I have to do it all on my own.

So, I read and reread my book.  I edited, revised, proof-read, read again, reread, reread and still, STILL there were mistakes.  I made more changes.  I printed proof copies.  I shared it with my circle of talented friends who write and read.  I heard from them and I made more changes, read, reread, revised, proof-read, added, deleted read again and again and again and again.

I designed a cover.  I thought I liked it.  I didn't.  I changed it. I liked it again.

I'm waiting on what I hope will be the last proof copy.   I'm really excited.  I'm ready to send it out into the world.  I hope to move 10,000 units.  That's not so much.  Wait, that's a ton.  

I hope you might want to read it.  

It's coming.  It's coming soon. 

Through Eyes Like Mine.  A book.  My book.  By Noriko Nakada.