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Written a good book lately? Amateur authors practice

Nov. 30, 2010

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Matt Hellman | Lariat Photographer
Cameron Talley, a Baylor library information specialist, is participating in November's national novel writing month. His novel is approaching 50,000 words.

By Nydia Perez
Reporter

Thousands of writers across the globe will attempt to wrap up a month-long novel challenge before their midnight deadline today.

In November writers have been participating in NaNoWriMo (derived from "national novel writing month"), a challenge to write a 175-page, 50,000-word novel in one month.

Many of the participants are students who have chosen to accept the challenge despite having the burden of schoolwork.

Port Neches junior Edward Tuya is one of the municipal liaisons for the Waco region of NaNoWrimo participants. Tuya is in his third year of juggling novel writing as a student.

"It is very difficult to do with schoolwork during this time of the year," Tuya said. "You have the last batch of midterms but you are also getting ready for finals. You learn some good time-managing skills."

Tuya stays on track by writing 500 words in the morning and at night along with additional writing during the day to meet his daily quota.

"I try to shoot for 2,000 to 2,500 a day," he said. "I shoot for that to have Thanksgiving off and go to the Baylor football games and watch them win."

The first year Tuya wrote only 14,000 words, but his interest was ignited rather than discouraged.

"The first year I horribly failed, but it sparked something. It let me be creative in my own way so I started planning and preparing to do it again," Tuya said.

Tuya said while winning is considered to be producing 50,000 words, the biggest reward is the sense of accomplishment.

"The biggest prize is knowing that in 30 days you wrote a novel not for school, not for a grade, but for yourself," Tuya said.

Cameron Talley, a Baylor alumnus who now works as a library information specialist in the acquisitions department of Moody Library, is participating in the challenge. Talley said the writing challenge provided opportunity for personal growth.

"To me, NaNoWriMo is a powerful self-motivational tool for disciplining oneself to write every day," Talley said. "It is an opportunity to give yourself an absolute deadline and goal, and then fulfill it. The act of writing the 50,000 words is really not that hard -- it is the discipline to remain true to that creed. The hope is that in writing consistently, not only will you become a better writer, but also learn more about yourself and what you can do."

Talley participated for the first time last year.

"Last year I had no idea what to write about, so I started on November 1 writing about a guy stuck with writer's block," he said. "It worked out pretty well."

The point of writing is to have a semblance of a narrative, regardless of the genre. This year Talley is writing a story about the remorse of an average middle-class husband who had an affair.

Talley said that in addition to enhancing personal skills, NaNoWriMo also provided a good way to meet people.

"It's a great way to meet other writers in the community," Talley said. "I suppose there's also a bit of a peer pressure element -- if everyone else knows you're behind, you'll be motivated to catch up. At the beginning of December, I believe we are having a 'Thank goodness it's over' party in which you can relax and share stories of trials and tribulations and highs and lows of the past month. Our two municipal liaisons, Brenna Blaine and Edward Tuya, have done a fantastic job at organizing things for us."

Tuya helps organize and moderate the local community events for the participants. They meet at places like IHOP or Common Grounds. There are about 80 people registered for the Waco area and about 15 are Baylor students.

There were more than 165,000 participants globally in 2009. This year the number of participants has more than doubled.

Tuya said NaNoWriMo also helps promote global literacy.

"Writing and challenging yourself to create these stories is fun and amazing, but NaNoWriMo also sheds light to schools and countries that don't have literacy," Tuya said.

"They help promote literacy and buy schoolbooks for places here in the Unites States and across the world. At the end of the day I know I am having fun but also helping a really good cause."

Now on the eve of the deadline, Talley is still on track to reach 50,000 words, but his work is far from finished.

"I'm on track to meet the deadline. I have about 2,000 words left to write. Slow and steady wins the race for me," Talley said.

"I will still have maybe about 5,000 to 10,000 more words left before I bring the novel to a conclusion though. Remember, the goal is 50,000 words, not necessarily a finished work. I know we have had two people in the Waco area already 'win,' but I don't know how many others are going to."

Anyone interested in learning more about NaNoWriMo or making a donation can do so at http://www.nanowrimo.org.