Saturday, December 5, 2009

Teresa Hackler Battles with NaNoWriMo and Wins!

Teresa Hackler has successfully completed not one, but two years of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This year she was one of 167,150 participants worldwide who took on the challenge of writing 50,000+ words of a novel between November 1st and 30th.

50,000+ words! In one month! Two years in a row!

On top of that challenge, Teresa contended with an extra personal battle. As a young woman only in her 20’s, Teresa is being treated for macular degeneration, which is a progressive disease of the retina that causes light-sensing cells in the central area of vision (the macula) to stop working and eventually die, leading to blindness. This disease currently affects Teresa’s right eye.

So, basically, Teresa wrote novel #2 with more or less the use of only one eye.

With treatment, Teresa says some days her eye feels better, other days worse – it’s hard to tell. “My biggest issue,” Teresa says, “is doing typing and reading, and writing because my eyes get tired looking at the screen.”

Yet, despite that, Teresa persisted and became one of the 19.2% of participants who successfully completed the NaNoWriMo challenge of 2009. Teresa says the challenge of NaNoWriMo has taught her that if she really wants to do something, there is always a way to do it.

Congratulations, Teresa!

To learn more about Teresa’s NaNo experience, check out the interview below!

Prior to your first NaNoWriMo, how much writing experience did you have?

Teresa: Prior to NaNoWriMo I cannot say that I had ever had the ambition to write so much in such a short amount of time. For the past dozen years of my life, I have enjoyed writing recreationally and for my own amusement. In the spring of 2000, I became a published author, with a poem in Dewdrops at Dawn, a collection of poetry in the International Library of Poetry. Since then I have taken a left turn with my writing and focusing my creative energies with short stories, editing and the once a year marathon of NaNoWriMo.

Did you find it easier or harder to complete 50,000 words the second time around? How did your first and second years differ?

Teresa: This year I found it a bit harder than last year to complete the task set before me. I think that biggest difference between this year and last year has been my focus. Last year’s focus, just completing the task and amusing myself along the way, made the story much easier to write. This year my story was a bit darker, and there wasn't a lot of humor in it which made my focus a lot harder to maintain.

What are the best and worst aspects of NaNoWriMo?

Teresa: I think that one of the best aspects of NaNo is that it’s a personal challenge. You have to be committed to fulfilling a promise to yourself if you want to succeed at it and when you hit that 50,000 it is a rush of pride knowing that you did it. I think that the worse aspect of NaNo is that is done in November. A stomach full of turkey is not a writer’s best friend.

How do you prepare for NaNoWriMo?

Teresa: The main thing that I do to prepare for this event is write a plot arch. I prefer to map out a basic course that I want my plot to go and then when I sit down to compose, it helps me from getting completely distracted and losing focus, it also gives me boundaries for my characters and how I want to develop them.

In just 2-3 sentences, what did you write about this year? Last year?

Teresa: This year I tried to do a twist on an old fairy tale classic, Beauty and the Beast. Last year I wrote a piece of non-fiction whimsy. So depending on how you look at it, I wrote two romances in two years.

Do you have a preference between the two novels you wrote? Why?

Teresa: At the moment I prefer my first novel over my second, only because I have had breathing room with it and am now getting ready to start the long and tiresome process of editing it. The second novel is too new, and too raw for me to want to start the long process of berating myself for plot holes.

Now that you have two novels, what do you plan to do with them?

Teresa: I think that like most people that have completed NaNoWriMo, I would eventually like to have them published, but for my immediate plans for my novels, I plan on doing lots and lots of editing and polishing until it shines like a diamond in the sun, before I even consider submitting for mass consumption.

What has NaNoWriMo taught you about writing?

Teresa: I would say that the most important thing that NaNo has taught me about writing that it is easier to keep doing it then it is to stop and start. It is better to lose sleep and write down the idea no matter how wretched it is, then to lose it the arms of Morpheus.

What has NaNoWriMo taught you about yourself?

Teresa: I think that the biggest thing that it has taught me is that if I really want to do something, there is always a way to do it. When something is a priority there is always time for it.

Do you plan to participate in 2010?

Teresa: Provided that I have at least one good eye to see out of, I will most definitely participate again. Just don't ask me about a plot until October.

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