Nanowrimo Spotlight: Al Stegall

November 8, 2014

Good morning! Nanowrimo started on a Saturday morning this year, and here we are, back at Saturday morning, ready to go again. If you’re participating, I hope you have a great wordcount to show for the week. Today’s spotlight, Al, can be found under yangnome on the Nano site. And I’m pleased to host an interview with the man behind a key element of Nanowrimo lore–but more on that later.

How long have you been doing Nanowrimo?
2014 is my 11th NaNo season and 10th year as ML in Monterey, CA. Overall, NaNo has been a wonderful experience (if not, why would I keep subjecting myself to it year after year?). Sometime in late Oct 2004, I read someone’s internet post about Nano, clicked on a link to the site and signed up. At the time, I believe the NaNoWriMo slogan was something about writing your one day novel now. The basic premise was that many people have a story they’d like to tell one day, why not sit down and make that dream a reality. In 10th grade (about 13 years or so before my first NaNo) my teacher had us write the first chapter of our one day novel. This idea had stuck with me over the years, so I decided to use NaNoWriMo to sit down and write the thing. On Nov 1st at midnight, I started working on my novel and within a few hours I had knocked out about 6,000 words—far more than the 1667 requirement. Then I went to bed and never opened the document again.

I’d written myself into a corner and since I didn’t have a community around me for encouragement, I didn’t continue. Over the year though, the idea of writing a novel (and particularly NaNoWriMo stuck with me. I knew if I was going to succeed, I’d need to find others like me to help bolster each other along. A got in touch with NaNo HQ and arranged to start a region in my home town. That next Oct, I reworked my concept to something slightly different, with similar themes, but a more workable story. I started anew on Nov 1 and within about 7 days (taking a couple days off) I’d crossed the 50k line and pressed on to finish the novel at about 79k words. That was both a blessing and a curse. It showed me that the 50k goal was easily achievable, but that knowledge also fed into my natural propensity to procrastinate. Over the last ten years, we’ve built a great supportive community in our region and each year help push each other to success.

My favorite NaNo memory is a conglomeration of memories between 2005 and now. That story I worked on in 2005, was a very dark and gritty novel about a political prisoner in a north Korean prison camp. That novel forced me to go into some dark places. One night, I was participating in an online word war chat when I wrote a scene where the MC witnessed a prison guard bash another prisoner with a shovel, leaving her for dead. It was a pretty graphic and depressing scene and after the 30 minute word sprint, to clear my head a bit during the break I shared what had happened in the scene. We went back to do another sprint and upon returning, another member of the chat had unexpectedly had a character killed with a shovel. Then, another sprint and a shovel death unexpectedly appeared in another novel. Read the rest of this entry »

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