Welcome to Camp NaNoWriMo with me!

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It’s July 1 which means it’s the start of Camp NaNoWriMo! I’ve created a new blog at write.as using my romance writing pseudonym which isn’t a secret; it’s just separate so that if I ever publish anything, my academic writing and fiction writing don’t cross-pollinate. (I know some people use the same name for everything and that’s cool but I want to try this.)

The plan is to write a 12,000 word novella in July, edit and polish it, and self-publish it at a $2.99 price point. But the draft versions will always be available for free on that blog, and the final version will probably be there in a split-up format, too. And there’s a non-zero chance it’ll end up on Wattpad as well.

I’m using Gwen Hayes’s book Romancing the Beat to inspire my structure. I’m 99% pantsing. I have an idea about the main characters and the premise and that’s about it. So here’s where we’re at, which is slightly different from where the idea started already…

My original idea was that a “working actor” (we’ll call her H1) in NYC would come home to NC to help her mom recover from surgery and learn that the director of the children’s theater where she “got her start” was retiring and if they couldn’t find a proper replacement, they’d have to shut the theater down. She would run into her high school sweetheart (we’ll call him H2) who she met at the theater but with whom she hadn’t been able to maintain a relationship with him because they both were super career-focused and for reasons I hadn’t figured out yet, he wasn’t geographically mobile.

But in the middle of the night last night, I decided to bring it so it’s closer to home. So now H1 has a DFA in dramaturgy from Yale but has been a freeway flier for years because she can’t secure an adjuncting job, and the rest of the external circumstances are pretty much the same.

The thing that inspired me to write this publicly was Kristopher Jansma’s article for Electric Literature, What We Can—and Can’t—Learn About Louisa May Alcott from Her Teenage Fiction. I’m a sucker for juvenilia. I bought Alcott’s first novel, The Inheritance, when it was published in 1997 and it has a place of pride on my bookcase mostly because the cover is very pretty. I was playing Beth in a production of Little Women at the time. I have multiple boxes of my own creative output in my house that I’ve labeled “juvenilia.” You know, for when I end up donating my papers. I guess to Wilson Library? Anyway. Let’s all laugh about the idea of someone wanting my papers donated.

I’m also a sucker for author commentary. Piers Anthony writes these sprawling author’s notes and every time I read one of his books, I read the author’s note with great eagerness. The same for Leigh Bardugo, who blessedly actually names the titles of the works she used for her research.

I also love seeing works in early stages, works in progress, and hearing what people think of their own early work. So when Jansma mentioned Thomas Pynchon’s book, Slow Learner, , in which Pynchon offers and introduction to and commentary on some of his early stories, I decided to do something similar in real-time. The writing process, especially revision, feels so opague to me. I’m excited to open it up and make it public.

I know that I won’t be able to write every day this month, so I’m shooting for 20 writing days with a word count goal of 600 words each day. Buffer days will be for getting set up, writing commentary, or just taking a day off.

Today I’m writing this post and setting up Scrivener. Look out for those first 600 words in the next couple of days!

Kimberly Hirsh, PhD @kimberlyhirsh