November 1, 2014
“On your mark. Get set…”.
*Gun fires*. “Go!”
And we’re off. Legions of writers clickety-clicking their first 1,667 words — Milepost 1 of the marathon of all marathons: National Novel Writing Month, lovingly called NaNoWriMo.
A fitting start to the day, a half-day at the Marine Creek Creative Writing Conference, at the Northwest Campus of Tarrant County College. From 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., I soaked in writerly wisdom from the experts in three breakout sessions: Liz Lounsbury’s “Hooks, Twists, and High Concept: Grabbing and Keeping The Reader’s Interest”; Donovan Hufnagle’s “The Epistolary: Shaping Novels, Short Fiction, and Poetry with Letters, Diaries, and Newspaper Clippings,” and Yvonne Jocks’ “Smart or Popular: Can Your Story Be Both?”.
From each presentation, I walked out with fresh ideas that, in one way or another, I could relate to my own works-in-progress.
After the breakout sessions in various classrooms, we returned to the Student Center where Northwest Campus President, Dr. Elva LeBlanc introduced Susannah Charleson, New York Times Best-Selling Author. A search-and-rescue team member, she told about her experiences with her canine partner, a Golden Retriever named Puzzle, who helps her find missing persons in all kinds of settings: urban, rural, wilderness, and disaster. Her recent best-seller, Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog.
Besides for her experience, she left us with advice and encouragement for sticking to our writing, despite temptations from our families and friends.
A buffet lunch of savory vegetarian and “non-veg” pasta dishes and slices of crusty French bread followed, as did three door prizes, including two signed and personalized copies of Charleson’s work.
My favorite part of the day? Rubbing shoulders with writers of all backgrounds — fellow “tribe” members — beginners, experts, and those in-between. It helped to hear that writers more accomplished than I am share my doubts.
Now, on the eve of the “fall back” time change, I can feel pretty good about the start I’ve made in this NaNo-marathon. Now, while I ice down my aching fingers, I’m running in place, straining for the “finish line”:
the next 48,318 words and the two sweetest words a writer knows: “The End.”