When I first heard people chatting about Camp Nano, I actually did think it was a camp. (don’t ask, I’m gullible) And of course, I was kind of jealous. How could I get to this writing camp?
Then I learned Camp Nano was just November Nanowrimo. But in April. And you’re responsible for the sleeping bags and marshmallows.
Not sure I’ll ever pull out a sleeping bags or marshmallows, but I am pulling out the writing. I’m actually very excited about this, because I’ve never written a book during Nanowrimo.
Normally, I’m already in the middle of a book project, and Nano is just a side note. Oh, yes, I can keep track of my word count this month, but I’ve been working on this project for 6 months already.
However, this month, I will be starting a brand new project! And I’m very happy about this!
This project is completely different from everything I’ve ever done. For lots of reasons.
I am much more comfortable doing fantasy, or historical fiction. But this story has to be contemporary.
It’s also highly personal? and I didn’t even realize it was until I was chatting with my editor. I was telling her about the book idea, aka, making sure I didn’t sound completely insane.
My editor said the book idea sounded great, and then asked, “So is this a personal journey kind of book?”
At first, I was pretty sure, no. It’s not.
But as I started outlining, I’m realizing how much it actually is.
^ Me @ myself ^
The story is about 2016, and how the emotional rollercoaster of the election changes my main character’s life. She’s roped into campaigning for Clinton, slowly falls in love, and discovers who she is.
Now, that’s not exactly my life story. I didn’t campaign for Clinton. But I did intern for a campaign during the 2016 primaries. It was grueling, but I loved it. The adrenaline rush of the debates, hilariously frustrating twitter moments, and constantly, constantly, constantly checking polling data.
And the night my candidate stepped out of the race, I cried. For days. Yes, I was a mess.
During the fall, I worked for my schools media team and ranted about the election ALL THE TIME. I helped run some voter drives and block walked for a senate candidate. But I didn’t become emotionally invested, because of the heartbreak from the primaries. And I definitely did not meet anyone and fall in love.
I did stay up till 2 am watching CNN & constantly refreshing the NY Times webpage. Also, twitter, twitter, twitter.
^Be like Obama. Be on twitter^ 😂
Anyway, I don’t want to write a sad, terrible book about the election. That would just be depressing. This story has highs and lows. It’s highly emotional, with what I hope are sweet fluffy times and deep heartrending moments.
I’ve never written an emotionally driven story, so this is a brand new challenge!
Writing a story set in college is hard & fun
College is this diverse, exciting time in your life. But it also has definite hard times. I want to be true to college experience while making this experience my characters own.
For starters. I didn’t want to ignore the diversity college has. I’ve had international roommates, so my main character has an international roommate.
This story is set in Philadelphia. I’ve lived in Philly for two summers, but I’ve not gone to college there. (Yes, I was in Philly during the 2016 democratic convention. It was was nightmare for traffic. But cool billboards)
I’ve had to do some research about life and academics at Temple University. (Hopefully, they don’t start sending me recruitment packages after all the hours I spent on their website)
I didn’t want characters who were copycats of my own experience, so my main character is pretty different from me.
She’s quiet and pretty academic. Also, she is very hesitant to get involved in the election politics. And she isn’t a big social media person. Of course, our majors are very different as well.
Her brother is also in college with her. I like this part of the story, but it’s so different from my college experience. I’m 14 hours from home while my character is only 4 hours from home & a sibling is at school with her. I knew no one at school when I started.
Finally, my main character is a sophomore, So college isn’t all new, she knows the drill. I think maybe, you can grow most in your middle college years, because you’re kind of already settled. But still open to being surprised.
Before I start sharing other weird & fun facts about this story, here’s my working synopsis.
Addison isn’t studying politics. Her major is sociology, and her dream is to be a school counselor.
But even if you hate politics, everyone is talking about politics in 2016.
Especially the dark haired sophomore, Natalie, sitting two rows in front of Addison in her TV arts class.
A coffee date with Natalie turns into getting dragged to a Clinton campaign rally, and before Addison can even download her twitter app, she’s been roped into door walking and phone calling. Definitely not part of her fall semester plan.
While her family bickers about politics and November looms closer, Addison finds herself checking polling data, following twitter hashtags, and maybe, even falling in love.
*Actual footage of my face after I finished writing this synopsis*
Normally, I don’t write the synopsis till I’m at east 80% done writing the book. But the Camp Nano website had this synopsis box, so I felt halfway obligated to write something.
This story, I think, is character driven. Most of my projects are all about plot and I add in the emotional character arc as I write.
But with this story, I actually plotted out the character’s emotional journey more than the plot. That’s so weirdly different for me as a writer. It’s strange, but I think it will turn out pretty great.
Other fun things about the story.
Addison’s brother’s name is Allan Beacham Talbert. (The middle name is their mother’s maiden name) Addison calls him “Beach” which I absolutely love as a nickname. And I came up with the nickname before deciding on a first name. Fun.
I’m trying to remember how much I used snapchat in 2016. I deleted it in 2017, but as I started planning out the story, I realized, duh, everyone in college has snapchat. (except me, apparently)
And there was this journalist who snapped the funniest snap compilations during the election. So yeah, Addison’s got to follow Peter Hamby on Snapchat.
I’ve been reading so many Philly Journal news articles that I might as well get a subscription. Trying to find all the times Clinton visited Philly, and even Temple U. during the election. #research
Also, the VP debates were held in Philly. Do my characters attend the debate? Do they get selfies with Clinton & Tim Kaine?
True Story – I had an invitation to one of the 2016 primary debates but I couldn’t go because I was involved in a campus play that SAME NIGHT. I signed up for way too many volunteer things that semester.
This may be unpopular… so don’t judge too much. I actually really dislike hoagies. Philly cheesesteak makes no sense to me. But my characters are from PA, so they probably like all the Philly food. Just don’t make me eat any of it while I’m writing.
Getting into writing this story is such a rollercoaster. Pulling together my experience in Philly, college, and the election. Most importantly, making this my character’s own story.
Also, I love twitter. So getting my characters on Twitter is this big happy moment for me. I hate snapchat, but it’s this integral part of the college experience. Ugh. At least snapchat was really fun during the election season.
And did I mention that I’m writing this in April while still taking 19 credits? And finals are at the end of the month? I think I’m officially insane.
It’s also sad that Ed Sheeran’s deluxe album wasn’t released until 2017. My character’s can’t fangirl over the absolute best music in the world 🙁 I mean, I know Sheeran had music out before 2017 but he wasn’t that popular.
Are you writing for Camp Nano? If so, what’s your project about? Have you finished a novel for Nanowrimo before?
Thoughts about my current WIP? Any questions? Please ask questions because questions are the BEST!
Since Ed Sheeran isn’t really an option, what music should my characters love? (Hamilton, of course. Why am I asking?)