November is NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. An American idea, the website encourages people to write a 50,000 word novel within a month – 1500 words each day, for 30 days. Now in its 13th year, this initiative has grown into a global online success story. Last year there were 200,500 participants and 37, 500 winners who made it to the 50,000 word-finishing line.
The Nymph, however, has her reservations.
“Oh dear, oh dear!” She shook her head in dismay. “What about structure, characterization, careful plotting, fine-tuning the language. 50,000 words in a month – I call this diary writing, not a novel.
“Some will agree with you. I personally think it’s a lovely idea. I believe many use NaNoWriMo to help them overcome their initial block. The few who will become writers know that this is only the beginning of a long road.” I suggested.
“OK, then don’t call it Novel Writing – at least be honest and call it Word Production month or something.
We left the conversation there. But a few days later Peirene called an emergency meeting, insisting on the presence of the entire company – Maddy, intern Andrew and I. A matter of utmost urgency had arisen.
“As an ancient Greek Nymph I have the obligation to save the modern world from open-ended texts,” she announced. “I therefore have thought of an initiative that will encourage finished works of art.” She paused for a moment and then pronounced: “PeiShoStoMo.”
Maddy and I looked at each puzzled, while Peirene explained that during Peirene Short Story Month the Nymph will personally encourage people to write a 900 word short story. “30 words a day for 30 days,” she explained. “That is much more realistic and will leave time to polish the story until it shines like a true gem. Then we will choose the best three stories, publish them on our website and announce the winners in our newsletter which goes to Peirene readers world-wide not to mention the entire British press.”
Maddy, Andrew and I were impressed with the Nymph’s suggestion. After all we too prefer short fiction to overwritten novels. We immediately got down to work. We set up a webpage for a Peirene Short Story Competition. We sent information to creative writing courses in the UK and US. A twitter and facebook campaign is about to be launched. Then we arrived at the final hurdle. The judges.
“What do you mean; Judges?! “Peirene exclaimed indignantly. “I am going to be the sole judge.” We had a long discussion and finally concluded that the judges should represent a cross section of the modern book world – a writer, a publisher, a bookseller. However, the Nymph will serve as a close advisor.
Peirene is now counting the hours till Tuesday, the 1st of November, when NaNoWriMo and our short story competition will kick off. “And if the entries are stunningly good, we could publish them as a Peirene book,” she’s already musing. It’s true, if we were to discover a future Nobel Prize winner, I, too, would be proud of my Nymph. But let’s first wait and see, what comes our way.