Tag Archive for NaNoWriMo

The Great American Collective Novel(s)

By Cami Ostman

Well, dear friends, NaNoWriMo is over.

I had grand ideas of adding 50,000 words to my own novel in addition to facilitating our two RWB collectives, but alas, that’s not how the month unfolded for me. The good news, personally, was that once I added about 17,000 words to my own novel, I realized that the skeleton of the story was done and that what is needed is a careful, slow revision with attention to detail. For me that was a victory, even if it did mean watching NaNo buddies update their word counts all month while I played with words already on the page.

And the further good news for me this November was that I had a TON of fun with No Rest for The Wicked. A total of 51 writers wrote a total of 57 chapters in two versions of a novel that started with the same set of characters and circumstances and veered in about… well 51 different directions! Each evening I would post a chapter, thank that day’s author for contributing, email the author for the next day’s chapter and go to bed wondering what Eli’s clan(s) would be up to in the next 24 hours.

I observed that most of you who participated brought your expertise and passion to the project. We clearly had writers with medical, legal, poisonous, and arsenal specialties. We also had the soft-hearted among us who tried (to no avail) to redeem characters such as Eli and Randy, only to have them villainized once again by their successors.

The dog found her voice in version ONE, where Eli decided to leave his fortune to his four-legged friend, the only creature who had any true affection for the man. In version TWO, Eli feigned bankruptcy to see who loved him best. The answer, no one, really.

And by my count, a total of three illegitimate sons came out of the woodwork (well, actually, one switched-at-birth, one a result of a date rape, and one who thought he might be Eli’s from a 15-year affair, but who secretly did a DNA test to discover he was the product of his mother’s one-night stand with a different man altogether).

I don’t know about everyone else, but illegitimate children notwithstanding, I learned a few legitimate things about the writing process this month. I learned:

1. If you set a time limit and make yourself accountable to other people, you WILL get words on the page.

2. First drafts are rarely consistent with what has come before and that’s why God invented revision.

3. People of all skill and experience levels are willing to risk writing and putting their work out in public IF the pressure to be perfect (or even good) is taken off the table–ergo, perfectionism is not the friend of productivity.

4. It is possible to write 100,000 words in 30 days–even if it does require 51 authors.

5. I live among supportive, good-natured, risk-taking writers whose works I cannot wait to read in the years to come.

Thank you to all who made the NaNoWriMo Great American Collective Novel (s) possible this year.


Join us for a reading from our two great novels at Village Books, Monday, December 10 at 7pm.

Halftime NaNoWriMO Observations

  NaNoWriMo: Halftime

  by Cami Ostman



When the idea to spearhead the round robin NaNoWriMo novel jumped into my head sometime in late September, I got all fluttery inside. I’m such a sucker for this kind of thing. The idea of working together with a group of other people to get all of us from the starting line through to the finish is alluring. I mean, what’s better than being an author–the person who answers the question of what happens next in a story? The only thing better is doing it with a team!

I guess a lot of people felt the same way we did. We’ve got over 50 authors working on two versions of the Hale family shenanigans in our novels respectively entitled No Rest for the Wicked, Take ONE and No Rest for the Wicked, Take Two.

In one version of the novel, there is a fire at the family compound and Eli, the patriarch, has to be taken to the hospital (where his youngest daughter is a doctor) for smoke inhalation

In the other version, Eli fakes a bankruptcy in order to discern who in his family truly loves him versus who hangs around just for what might turn out to be a hefty inheritance. Meanwhile, his mild mannered, childlike wife is having a secret affair.

As I watch through the lens of webmaster, I’ve made a number of observations:

1.  Writing something for others to read in real time is scary. Every day I field a flurry of frantic emails. “Can you tell me again how to get into the google document?” “I hope I didn’t do any harm to the story.” “Can I have someone help me write my chapter?” “Will you make sure I didn’t screw anything up?” To be honest, I haven’t had much time for proofreading, so I’ve simply had to remind everyone of this: This project is an act of ANTI-perfectionism. This is about writing with abandon. It’s about having fun and joining a community. It’s about playing with words and experiencing the complexity of story-telling.

2. Writing something for others to read in real time is brave. We’ve got both experienced and novice authors working together on this project. I, for one, am proud of how everyone has put him/herself out there. With utter abandon each writer has taken the proverbial baton and run with it, moving the stories forward and handing it off with gusto. In spite of the fear, everyone has come through.

3. There are a lot of smart, creative people in our virtual writing community. I am laughing my way through the cleverness and wit of every chapter. I’ve noticed how each person has brought his/her expertise and particular flare to the project and how, without exception, each author has been faithful to the spirit of the work.

4. This is fun.

And we’re only half way through! What have you noticed as a reader or writer of No Rest for the Wicked? If you’ve already written your chapter, what was it like for you? If you haven’t written your chapter yet, what are you worried about/excited to resolve or add? And we’ll ask this again at the end of the project, but what’s your advice for next year?

A big thanks to everyone who has participated in or is about to participate in the unfolding of these stories!