After finishing their homework, most high-schoolers are ready to go to bed or watch TV. But junior Raphaella So still has to work on her most recent project: a novel.
For National Novel Writing Month this November, So is writing a full-length novel about a brother and sister who reunite after six years apart. The project, which was launched in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1999, encourages writers to let go of their inhibitions and just write.
“I enjoy the story development,” So said. “Imagining how the story turns out is also very fun because I get to add a ton of surprises for my readers.”
So is attempting the challenge for the first time this year. While she was intimidated at first, she decided to take on the project to improve her writing.
“I heard about it last year; at that time, I was like, ‘50,000 words? That’s crazy,’” So said. “But this year, I decided that it would be a great chance to practice my writing skills.”
Junior Pablo Ramirez is also taking part in NaNoWriMo by telling the story of a boy who’s on a mission to save the creative “spark” that inspires authors around the world. Though this is Ramirez’s third try, it’s the first year that he has surpassed 3,000 words and thinks he will finish on time, he said.
For those who do successfully write a 50,000-word novel, the National Novel Writing Month project has a deal with independent publishing company “CreateSpace,” which will send the author up to five paperback copies of the finished novel.
Senior Julie Elfin is also attempting to write her first novel, one about a group of high school kids on a service trip to El Salvador.
“I’ve considered participating before, but I’ve always put it off,” she said. “I realized I only get busier as the years go by, and if I didn’t start now, I probably never would.”
Striking a balance between schoolwork and novel-writing is difficult, but it’s possible, Elfin said.
“I don’t sleep as much as I should, but it’s totally doable,” Elfin said. “It’s all about motivation. You have to really want to bring your story to life.”
Despite the challenges that writing a 200-page novel in one month can present, the benefits from the writing process are even greater.
“You can put so much into something as insignificant as a piece of paper,” Ramirez said. “It can make you weep or make you laugh. Writing has the power to topple empires. That’s really powerful.”
Ramirez is also a graphic artist for the Black & White. We’ll check back with the three aspiring writers at the end of the month to see if they’ve accomplished their goal.