Once again, I have decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. This will be my fifth year participating, and an anticipated third win, should I make it to 50,000 words by December 1.
This year’s project will be The Coral Gate, a rural, modern-day fantasy set in backwoods Tennessee. “Lily Mason and her family discover a red stone arch near a national laboratory in rural Tennessee; soon, creatures appear from the arch, and not all of them are friendly or benign.” It’s a concept I’ve toyed with this year: writing a portal/parallel worlds fantasy that doesn’t feel like every other one out there. I’ve also wanted to write a fantasy series that takes place around Roane County, where I spent part of my childhood and early adulthood.
Lily, the protagonist, represents some of my frustration with living in Kingston and Harriman. She doesn’t fit in, either with her family or her community at large; when the gate summons an intelligent gnome from another world, fleeing for his life, Lily begins to think about the repercussions of living in an intolerant, isolated Christian community.
There are also unicorns, giant wasps and car-devouring monster plants. Because if you can create a gateway between worlds, why not (as a writer) take advantage of that?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from participating in NaNoWriMo is to be passionate about what you write. I’ve attempted ambitious stories that imploded midway through because I didn’t care about what was happening. I designed The Coral Gate to tap into as many different passions of mine as possible: environmental and social justice, religious belief, sexuality, oppression, and creative expression. It might not be about any of these in the end, and could well end up about something different (it could end up about the importance of car maintenance on the first scene alone). But if your project isn’t informed by your passions, you’ll run out of steam quickly in the ensuing chaos that is November.
So, best of luck to my fellow NaNo-ers. I’ll be writing close to the daily quota for most of the month, so if you blow on past me, give yourself a pat on the back and move forward. I’ll be at the finish line by the end of the month, all willing.