PORT WILLIAMS, N.S. - November is National Novel Writing Month, and one Port Williams teen has set out to write a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days.
Caelin Ansems, a 14-year-old Grade 9 student at Horton, first learned about the international NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge through school.
“Our English class was on our first visit to the library in September when my teacher, Mr. Dowell, told the librarian, Mrs. Jacquard, that I am interested in writing and she invited me to look at the NaNoWriMo website,” says Caelin, who sat down that night to enroll in the challenge.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Starting Nov. 1, participants were given the tools to help them achieve their 50,000-word goal. The website has a chart, explains Caelin, so you can track what you need to finish by Nov. 30. It tells you how many words you still need to write and the number of words you need to write per day, which is a minimum of 1,667 words.
With the help of a few snow days off school, Caelin achieved her writing goal on Nov. 27.
“I did have support from my parents who made sure that I ate healthily while I was sitting on the couch all day, spending all my time writing the story,” she says.
The result is a fantasy novel entitled The Land Above the Clouds, which is about two teens who are magically transported to a world of floating islands that exists above earth. The floating Islands were created in the Middle Ages by the magical community of the world because they realized that the humans were going to kill off all the magical creatures because they feared them. The teenagers meet a new friend and the three of them go on super-dangerous adventures.
Caelin says her hope is to send the book to a publisher, and then write more in the series.
She adds that the NaNoWriMo challenge motivated her to write every day, as otherwise, she may have just written every few weeks. The most challenging aspect, she says, was not being able to edit the manuscript as she went along, as she would have ended up deleting paragraphs, and thus affecting her word count.
Caelin’s school librarian, Jacquard, is familiar with the writing challenge as her daughter participated years earlier.
Lindsay Jacquard, also formerly of Port Williams, completed the NaNoWriMo challenge as a teenager in 2009 and 2010, and found the process all consuming.
“My novel was the first thing I thought about in the morning, and the last thing before going to bed. This was because I was getting up early and staying up late just to write,” she says.
Completing her novels was hugely rewarding, especially as a young person who had always aspired to do it. She says she was deeply proud of the dedication she had shown to what proved to be an engaging hobby.
Although her proud father printed off her first manuscript, Lindsay Jacquard says she has not done anything with it yet.
“I had tossed around the idea of editing them and getting a copy self-published just for me, but it’s not something I ever followed through on,” she says. “I was just happy to have finally gotten my stories written down.”
She highly recommends the writing challenge to anyone who has ever thought of writing a novel. She says it’s important to set your own goals because that could be the full 50,000 words or even just putting words on a page every single day. She recommends that writers planning to reach the full word count start planning in October.
“Pull out those story-planning rollercoasters you did in elementary school and find the beginning, middle and end. You’ll thank yourself midway through November,” she says.
As for Caelin, she says she’s just glad to be finished and to have more free time now that she doesn’t have to be in front of the computer so much - until next year.
“I've learned it's really hard to juggle writing a novel, going to school and starting some pretty big knitting projects all at the same time.”