My “What Happened to Kim” novel — how it started.

I’ve been working on this novel since November 2011, when I tried National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time. On October 31st 2011 I was just doing Halloween things and wasn’t even thinking very seriously about trying NaNoWriMo. Trying to write 50,000 words in a month, and a 30-day month too — it felt like such a crazy idea. After all, I have a job that I love, that is very full-time. On top of everything else that needs to happen in any given month, like family, picking up groceries, going out to see the occasional band, basic hygiene, everything.

But on November 1st I started anyhow. I had no plot in mind and no plan at all, just one scene with two girls who are standing in their high school smoke pit on the first day of Grade 10, talking about how they spent their summer holidays. One of them, the school bully, is bragging about working as a prostitute over the summer, and all the money she’s made. The other is shocked and a little scared.

That’s all I had. But somehow I managed to write almost every day, did a few crazy catch-up days here and there when I fell behind, and more characters showed up and did things, and this turned into a whole book.

To my great surprise, I hit the 50,000 word target on the evening of November 28th.

I felt pretty great.

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The photo doesn’t show it, but at the end of the NaNoWriMo process, when they confirm that you are a “winner” (have achieved the 50,000 words), a video comes up that shows a lot of people cheering for you. I admit, it made me cry a little.

At that point I didn’t want to think about what would come next.