Taking the Nano-vella-wrimo challenge

Do you love books?

Silly question. You’re reading a blog all about things related to these literary objects of desire. Of course you do.

If you’re as much as a book lover as me, you’ve probably contemplated boosting your involvement with books by opening a bookshop (or working in one or spending all your disposable income and then some in one), starting a small book publisher (or working for one of any size), working in a library (or spending all your spare time in one), or writing a novel (or just writing about them as I have done as a literary editor, reviewer and blogger).

I’ve dreamt about becoming a bookseller (with a vegetarian café/wine bar on site), publisher (or commissioning editor) and novelist ever since I can remember.

In my first year at school, I devoured the “readers” (I think we started with a series about a dog called Digger), getting way ahead of many of the others by spending lunchtime in the library (my favourite read in that library was a little book called Lyrico, about a winged horse) and afternoons inside reading. Back then, I looked up to our school librarians, Mrs Goodes and then Mrs Dartnall, and thought I might follow in their footsteps one day.

At around that time, my mother bought a children’s wear shop next door to the original Paperchain Bookshop in Manuka here in Canberra. I used to browse for hours while she worked, pondering which series I’d read next – from Beatrix Potter and the Mr Men books through to Enid Blyton, Elyne Mitchell, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. It was a magical place for me, and may have something to do with my passion for shiny new books. I’ve never been big on second hand books or libraries since, which is great for the book industry but not for my bank balance.

I do still have romantic pipe dreams about owning a bookshop (though these days I’m thinking more of an ebookstore). Hey, I finally work for one at least – with this blog – after all these years. Paperchain never would give me a summer job back in my student days. I’d still love to become a book publisher (and if I play my cards right with my current day job employers just might manage this in the next year or so). And after decades of talking about it, and one or two aborted attempts, it’s probably about time I sat down and wrote a novel too.

That’s where all this is leading. I’m going to try my hand at a lite version of the US’s National Novel Writing Month. The full commitment, to write 50,000 in a month, won’t work for me this year. I have uni marking to do, two magazines to put out, a toddler to hang out with, and blog posts to write.

So I’ve decided instead to focus on writing a novella of say 20,000 words, with as many of these as possible coming during November, and the rest by the end of the summer.

If you’re contemplating writing a longer work of fiction, there is no better time to start than today – November 1 is day one of the international challenge. Check out the Nanowrimo website for details. Connect with fellow would-be churners from all over the world – or just around the corner. Sign up and get writing.

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Charlotte Harper

Charlotte Harper is a Canberra journalist, blogger, editor and publisher who has worked in newspapers, magazines, books and online. She runs digital-first non-fiction publisher Editia and covered book industry developments at ebookish.com.au before joining Booku.com. A former literary editor of The South China Morning Post, Charlotte has also written about books and technology for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times. She once edited a mobile phone and gadget magazine, and is a published author, of a book about digital publishing – Weird Wild Web (Penguin Australia 1999).

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