Good morning, friends and followers. For my penultimate spotlight, I have somebody from close to home: Dianna
My name is Dianna L. Gunn and I’ve been known as Litharukia on the Nanowrimo forums—or Lithy by my friends—for 8 years. This will be my ninth year participating in Nanowrimo and my eighth win. I’ve also been blogging about it for years, and I’m currently hosting my own Nanowrimo Blogstravaganza elsewhere on the web.
I was 11 years old when I won my first Nanowrimo, and though I could gloat about it, what’s more important is what Nanowrimo gave me: the confidence to go for the writing career I dreamed of and the knowledge that I actually could write a novel.
At the end of my first Nanowrimo, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. At the end of my second Nanowrimo—the only year I ever lost—he passed away. The friends I made through Nanowrimo helped me through that and they’ve helped me through many things since. I’ve never met some of them face to face but they are my dearest friends and many are my oldest friends.
November is always a hard month for me, but instead of focusing on the sad memories and getting bogged down in depression—something I am highly suspect to—I write as many words as I humanly can every year. I’ve written up to 300, 000 words in the month of November and gained a celebrity status in my local community, but it’s the friendships that make it worth it.
I’m really excited to be here and I hope I can help shed some light on the whole Nanowrimo experience for those of you considering participating for the first time.
What are you writing about this year?
May I be frank? Yes? Good. I don’t really know. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a story involving an exile riding a dragon and an assassin, but I have no idea what those characters have to do with each other or what kind of story it will be. There’s also a part of me that’s tempted to stray far from my usual genre of fantasy, though I don’t have any ideas for a novel in a different genre, so I’ll probably leave that for another year.
Who’s the best character in your Nano novel?
Since I don’t really know what I’m going to write about this year, I’m going to cheat and talk about my all time favourite Nanowrimo character ever, out of all the novels I’ve ever written. Which, now that I’m thinking about it, is a really tough decision.
In the end, though, I think it would be the villain from my 2006 novel, which I am vigorously editing in the hopes of someday publishing. Her name is Lari and she’s a thousand years old because she cast a spell to preserve her city, but it killed everyone and everything else within the city in the process. She’s using dark magic to recreate her kingdom, but I think she’s an extremely sympathetic villain and she’s definitely a strong woman.
The depth of what she’s lost and the lengths she’ll go to to see it restored make her fascinating and a lot of fun to write, though she’s also one of the most difficult characters I’ve ever written.
What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
Write fast, and refuse yourself the simple pleasures of life until you’ve written your minimum word count for the day. For me, my biggest distraction—outside of school and my own blog—is my region’s local Nanowrimo themed chat room. Simply by refusing to enter chat until I’ve written 2K I usually find the determination to meet my goal, because 2K in I’m inspired and I don’t want to stop. The chat room is also an awesome reward, so make sure that whatever you’re refusing to do so you can write will be even more awesome if you do it once you’ve hit your word count for the day.
Also, know that you’re awesome for trying, that we can all do it, and that we’re all awesome, which is basically the same as the first thing I said.
Sneaky Ninja question! Are you more of an optimist, pessimist, or exactly in-between?
All of the above! It just depends on my mood and my novel 😉
If you’d like to be my writing buddy, I can be found here. Right now I’m not a published author of any level of fame, but I do have novels in every stage of editing and I’ve got articles all over the web. Updates on my work and advice on writing of every kind can be found at my blog, The Dabbler, which I started in the summer after deciding I wanted to move away from my own blog, Dianna’s Writing Den. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to share some exciting publishing news about my fiction, but at the moment, what you’ll find there is my personal advice on how to create your own writing career, and links to my guest appearances around the web.
If you like YA fantasy with a bit of a morbid bent to it and no clear winner at the end, I’m the up and coming writer you want to be watching—and believe you me, I am going to land that publishing deal one way or another, and it’s going to happen soon. So watch my blog to keep track of my publishing journey—and feel free to send me some of your own writing, because I love guest posts.
I read a lot of stuff about NaNo, and I’ve never taken part — mostly because I write a lot in my spare time anyway — but yours has to be one of the most touching stories I’ve read. People write for all different kinds of reasons; I like how you’ve managed to turn this challenge into a more personal kind of deal, to write your way away from the sad.
I DO like that kind of fantasy. I’m going to check out your blog.
Thanks for your encouraging words. I think that the best thing humanity can do with these experiences is express them through art, to communicate with other people who have been through the same thing. I find even in fantasy novels on completely unrelated words, there is always some issue the mind subconsciously is working through in the story, and that becomes the overwhelming theme.