Though I’m Not Much of a Fan of Bugs…

I’m headed off to Camp for the entire month of August. CampNaNoWriMo that is!

National Novel Writers Month, NaNoWriMo,or NaNo for short, is an annual event that takes place during the thirty days of November every year. The challenge is to complete writing a 50,000 word novel in no more than those thirty days.

Tall order? Yes, but the challenge is so worth it!

I did NaNo in 2009 and 2010 and I “won” both times. I even got snazzy badges for my efforts.

Sure the awards look great on a blog but all I really wanted out of the deal was some valuable words, character development, and a general storyline.

But I knew the purge of words wouldn’t be all I did with the manuscripts. The challenge worked great and I released one of my NaNo books, Ripple the Twine, in April 2012.

I wanted to do Nano again this year but planned to work on MS2 until November. Of course, plans change.

So now I’m sure you’re asking: have I lost my mind? Did I need an added challenge? Was I missing “Kumbayah” around the fire and S’mores so much that I felt the need to return to camp after all these years of being able to avoid it?

Because I really hate bugs.

So to understand why I’d voluntarily go to Camp at age thirty-nine I’ll tell you the story about the first time I went away to overnight camp.

Let’s take a trip back. Back to 1982-83 when I was about ten years old. I don’t know if other states do this but fifth grade camp was a rite of passage for kids in my area.

You took a bus for about 100 hours and ended up somewhere in the depths of Stephen King, Maine.

With no cell phones, no link to the outside world, a lake, some rickety and drafty cabins and a big mess hall, our Counselors were raring to go the moment we arrived. But I was no cheerleader, I just wanted to lie in my bed and read.

Within a millisecond of our arrival it started raining. And I’m not talking the New England rain where you get three days of clouds, some light sprinkles off and on and an hour of a downpour. No, I mean sustained and steady rain.

It rained like that all day, every day, for the entire week we were there.

Canoeing? Out. Swimming? Out. Baseball games? Out. Pretty much all the outdoor activities the Counselors had planned were not going to happen because everything started to flood on day one.

Plus I don’t think they would have been able to deal if all 100+ of us happened to succumb to the “you’ll catch your death” old wives tale from playing all day in the cold and wet nastiness.

I got my wish of reading in my bunk bed. But even I started getting antsy, and doing nothing more than waiting for mealtimes wasn’t enough activity for me.

If fifth grade camp taught me anything besides how to wear wet socks and underwear all day, it was learning to be flexible.

Learning how to take the cues from Mother Nature and roll with what she dictates. Sometimes, even though all you want to do is swim in the lake, you have to hang out on the front porch of the mess hall with the oldest guy on the planet and learn to whittle.

So now I'm spending a month whittling a new book

CampNaNoWriMo is my way of picking up a jack-knife and creating something cool while I watch and listen to the rain fall.

(As a side note, if I could make one request of Camp this time it would be to not have to be trucked out on a flatbed because the water level in the street is too high to get the bus to our campsite, please. Just sayin’. Thanks.)

And if I’m going to apply what I learned in fifth grade to my life now then I fully intend to keep in mind the theory of flexibility. That's why I'm not waiting until November.

I have a story in mind. A concept I'm dying to write. So why would I wait, quell inspiration, when I could just get it out now?

And truth? MS2 was going nowhere. Literally. It was stuck in a cabin and couldn’t get across the field because there was a big flood flowing straight out to the lake.

That flood was my inspiration for MS3. That flood was character development and ideas jamming into my head. I knew they had to get out. And I knew I couldn’t wait three months to release them or the dam might crack on its own.

So on August 1, the first day of Camp, I just started typing. And I’m already just under 4,000 words. Thing is, my draft is just like a stick I’m about to whittle. I have the tools and an idea what I want it to look like when it’s done, but right now it’s just a big lump of wood.

The genre is different from my usual Chick-Lit. There’s some suspense in there, lots of tension.

It's weird but I don't feel as connected to writing straight-up Chick-Lit anymore. I'm happily married so I’m finding it hard to conjure up the fantasy of the life of a single girl.

What I need to write, due to my “boring” life as a happily married gal, is some drama and excitement. Heart racing, blood pumping, chase scenes and fast driving, getaways and stakeouts, bad guys and good guys.


I don't want that kind of drama in my life, but I sure can make my lead female character have to chase down something espionage-y. Because as fiction writers aren’t we all just living vicariously through the characters we write anyway?

So I took off for the remote location in the woods and started writing it all down. It may be nothing. On the other hand the proverbial stick may just turn into a fully detailed and intricate carving where no grain of wood is left untouched.

I’ve got 46,000 words and 27 more rainy days to start working all that stuff out.

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