The next great American novel might have been written in 30 days.
How history judges the products of Durango's aspiring authors during National Novel Writing Month remains to be seen, but America's bibliography is longer by at least 19 titles this morning thanks to their efforts in November.
Maria's Bookshop hosted a Thank God it's Over" party for the end of NaNoWriMo, which drew 57 people from Durango, Cortez, Dolores, Bayfield, Pagosa Springs and Kirtland, N.M. The regional turnout bested last year's participation by
nearly half, when 31 writers attempted the 50,000-word monthly goal.
Alane Brown, who is the municipal liaison for the national organization, said 19 people hit the benchmark this year, with another one or two struggling late Monday night to finish in time. All told, the regional participants wrote an
average of 30,110 words each for a total of 1,716,316 words in November. Novels were written in 15 different genres
including fantasy, historical fiction, sci-fi and romance.
It's been great, and ours is a very, very high success rate compared with the national numbers," Brown said.
It shows people were very determined and really put themselves into this and let the housecleaning go for the month
and just wrote and wrote and wrote."
No one wrote more than Molly Childers, who cranked out 95,000 words of Lost: The Tragic History of Lost Maiden Lake.
The 2003 Fort Lewis College graduate and local artist hopes to get her ghost story in front of a publisher within the
next few months. It's one of several books Childers is working on, which is all the more impressive because she
writes everything by hand.
I've killed quite a few pens and notebooks on that project," she said.
I knew I could work fast, but I never really challenged myself like that, and I'm blown away. That's what I like
about this event: It really makes people stretch their limits."
Would-be writers met several times throughout November and also gave and received support for each other through the
NaNoWriMo Web site. All of the writers who met the 50,000-word mark received a purple ribbon from the national
organization on Monday night and several read excerpts from their novels.
Brown also gave out small Ninja figurines to attendees of the meetings throughout the month, and each successful
finisher got one last Ninja on Monday. The Ninjas are meant to inspire the authors through the next dreaded step:
You have to write very fast, so you can't edit as you go. You just have to get it done through that creative
spurt," Brown said.
People came to the events, worked hard, supported and encouraged one another. It's become a group that will continue
on. There will be a Durango NaNoWriMo group again in 2010, and it's still open to anyone."