The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


October 29, 2012

Joe Hadsall: Challenge accepted for November novel

JOPLIN, Mo. — Holy crap. What the heck am I getting into?

Next month, I’ve promised to start a major writing project: A novel. I’m going to take part in National Novel Writing Month.

And I’m freaking out.

In a nutshell: National Novel Writing Month (which goes by the terrible nickname NaNoWriMo) is a group that offers support and encouragement to writers by challenging them to finish a rough draft in November. “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon,” they say. If you can write 50,000 words by the end of the month, you “win” and get a nifty certificate.

Despite the abundance of positive pick-me-ups and energetic encouragement infused across the website, it sounded like just the kick in the pants that I needed.

I know I can write fiction. I’ve done it before. I have several short stories sitting on my computer, and I plan to release them on Smashwords in the near future.

I also have a great mentor: Suzann Ledbetter, an author and Joplin graduate, who I met during my time in Nixa. She gave me my first “pigstickin’” Ñ because I didn’t run away screaming afterward, she said, I might be able to see this writing thing through.

And when I found out that Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus,” a favorite book of The Lovely Paula Hadsall and mine, was written during a previous year’s NaNoWriMo, my participation was sealed. So, I signed up and registered with the closest regional group. Unfortunately, it’s based in Springfield, so it’s not easy to make gatherings.

I felt good about it in September, when I let my idea bake around in my head. I thought I could do some research throughout October and get the wheat to grind in my novel millstone.

October is almost over, and I haven’t done very much research. I guess I figure that can come later.

But man, I’m starting to have doubts about whether I can do this. 50,000 words in a month. Thirty days. That equals about 1,667 words a day. And I have a 3,500-word head start in three chapters.

But I have no idea where this story is going. I have some characters thought up and some general notions about where my story is going, but I have no idea about the ending.

And there’s also books to read and video games to play. I just got “The Twelve” by Justin Cronin, and “Assassin’s Creed.” I’m scared because I know me, and I know that my motivation comes in sudden gushes, not steady streams. With distractions like those calling, who knows?

Surviving the tornado didn’t give me a firm sense of “seize the day.” It feels more like surviving every day Ñ I’m still dealing with cleanup aspects, emotional damage and other crap that the winds stirred up and that refuses to settle.

That means I don’t have the newfound sense of purpose and direction that others have found, I guess. I cherish my hobbies Ñ from practicing card sleights to mashing controller buttons Ñ because they help me FORGET about all this crap.

But I do have a dream, and thanks to the growing respectability of e-publishing, I have a way to see it through. All I have to do is do it. And there’s a lot of people who want to see this happen. TLP, friends, family, colleagues Ñ there’s a lot of people who have my back. I’ve been wanting to write a book since I was in my 20s. Now that I’m pushing 40, it’s about time to get started, for real.

So, I’ll do it. I’ll report back in a month to let you know if I win.

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New Kansas teaching license regulations would allow some individuals who have ample expertise but do not have education degrees to become secondary school teachers. Do you agree or disagree with that change?

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