Tag Archives: National Writing Month

National Writing Month


I was utterly exhausted after writing 50,000 words in a month, as well as going to school part-time and working on writing contracts. However, I am glad I did it!

My background in fiction writing is limited, but my non-fiction writing experience is rather vast and varied. Thus, I was interested to see how the process differed when it came to getting words on the page. After just three days into the contest, I realized I was in for a roller coaster ride. My imagination took off and my characters seemed to have wills of their own!

Let me pause here and give you a brief synopsis. My novel is called Two Women. It takes place in 1993 and 1994 in Vancouver, Victoria, Tokyo, and Kyoto. The first half of the novel is from a limited omniscient perspective and is focused on the life and relationships of a young woman called Cassandra. The second half of the novel is also in limited omniscient, but from the perspective of Michelle, a somewhat older woman. These women are linked by a man they are both involved with, though they don’t actually meet. The genre of the novel is women’s fiction and deals with questions like: What does it mean to be a feminist? How has modern technology changed relationships between people? How do we define success?

Anyway, I found that when I was writing this novel that every impactful experience I have ever had seemed to influence what I was writing. My characters’ personalities, their daily lives, and climatic moments all contained at least a flavour of the life I have led. That’s why the thought of showing the novel to anyone is so abhorrent to me. It is just such a revelatory document!

It is also very rough. It needs serious editing for continuity! It was very challenging to get the two women’s stories into the same time frame and have them mirror each other to a degree. Were I given the chance to do it over, I would definitely create a much more detailed outline. However, having two perspectives in the story was a choice I made along the way and I think the book is better because for it.

Would I ever write another novel? I don’t think so. I find real life and real people’s stories incredibly interesting. I also like the fact that I just tell those stories and don’t find my way into them. That said, I would certainly consider writing a short story or play. I think the brevity of those forms would allow me to express myself without giving too much away.

National Writing Month sponsors offer generous discounts to winners who want to get their novels published. There are also supposed to be some ebooks given to winners. More information is becoming available, so I will provide an update if I collect any prizes as such. However, I think what I have really won through this experience is new knowledge about myself, the writing process, and the importance of sticking with something and seeing it through to completion. I have always managed to do the latter in a professional capacity, but it was nice to do it for myself just this once.

How I Didn’t Quite Win A Tea Contest

The Contest

As some of you know, Davids Tea has a Mystery Tea Contest each year. They put out a blend for sampling and ask customers to submit names, based on the taste and ingredients in the tea. This year’s tea was a white tea blend of pineapple, melon, and mango. So, I was one of the customers who submitted names.

Coming Up With The Name

I believe the company got hundreds of names, as one customer announced on Twitter that she alone had submitted 35. The name I came up with occurred to me after tasting the tea at the Gastown store and having the clerk remind me how much Davids Tea likes puns (last year’s winner was “Mint to Be”). I was trying to think of words that rhymed with “melon”, rather than mango, as Davids Tea already has a number of mango-related names. Believe me, nothing good rhymes with pineapple.

Helen rhymes with melon. Famous people named Helen: Helen Keller, Helen Hayes…Helen of Troy! Thus, “Melon of Troy” was born and submitted to Davids Tea.

Making It To The Top Ten

After I sent in “Melon of Troy”, I kind of forgot about the contest. However, I wanted to vote when I saw a reminder notice on Facebook. I looked at the list of the top ten names and “Melon of Troy” was there! I was so elated. I’d been having a rather dull week and this surprise made things much better.

I started campaigning for “Melon of Troy”: sending out Tweets, posting on Facebook, e-mailing my friends and family, and even making an announcement in my graphic design class. I connected with a young woman on Twitter who tweeted that she was the originator of “Honey-I-Dew”. I was really impressed by such a creative submission and liked it almost as much as my own, and certainly more than the other options.

Finding Out I Didn’t Win

Tonight, on the way home from my Photoshop class, I found out that “Honey-I-Dew” won. I am a bit disappointed. Not because I didn’t win 250 grams of the tea, which frankly I didn’t like that much, but simply because it’s nice to have your creativity validated. I hope the nice young woman from Montreal who won is happy and will smile when she sees “Honey-I-Dew” on the Davids Tea wall in 2015. I am going to try not to wince. Maybe, I’ll just avert my eyes from the white tea section and remind myself that there’s always next year. 

Thank You For Voting and What I’m Up To Next

I’d like to thank everyone who voted for “Melon of Troy”. It was nice to have support from so many friends and family members. As that great sage Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life says, “No man is a failure who has friends.”

So, in terms of entering contests, I will still continue to enter contests as I see them, but the main contest I will be a part of is National Novel Writing Month. Basically, I will be writing 1667 words per day in the month of November. By the end, I should have a novel the length of The Great Gatsby, if not the quality. I win if I complete the required number of words by the end of the month. What do I win? A few discounts from online sites and the legitimacy to buy a t-shirt that says I “won” off the website. What I really win is the chance to cross off a bucket list item. I very much doubt I will show the novel to anyone when it’s finished. Yet, I’ll know I did it and it will stand as a relic of my perseverance, if nothing else.

Note: At the start of November, I will post a link if you’d like to follow my progress.