NaNoWriMo – Pirates of the DeeCee Beltway

So, there was a grand experiment held back in October. A group of friends all decided that we were to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo event. NaNoWriMo in itself has its own goal: write a complete novel in the month of November, no less than fifty thousand words. If you’ve ever written anything, you know that this is some heavy shit to draw down on. Especially if you have kids, a job, hobbies, friends, dogs, or any other thing that can distract you from the task. It is by no means something to take lightly if you’re serious about it because disappointment is almost certainly a plausible result.

However, me and mine are usually not up for just any challenge. No, dear reader. Why wuss out when you could make it more interesting?

We wanted to have randomly assigned topics and requirements.

The methodology was simple. Three bowls would be generated, each populated with slips of paper. Upon these scraps were written words and phrases. These slips would be divided into topics, themes and settings. We would then begin the draw. There was to be no trading. There was to be no whining. There was to be no peeking. And, with that said, we drew our lots.

We got some interesting draws. ‘A creepy, cloistered nun’ was one. ‘Tragic samurai in seventeenth century France’ was another. We even got a ‘Victorian England mobster sitcom.’

I drew ‘Pirates coming of age in Washington D.C.’

My inner ninja bristled. As you may well know, ninjas and pirates do NOT get along. So, I must admit to some disappointment in my draw.

The next stipulation was that we were only allowed to ponder and brainstorm on our idea until November 1st. We were not to put pen to paper, to begin writing outlines or notes. Just brainstorming. We had four days before November would begin. I held a brainstorming night between myself and a few other friends in which we used my living room whiteboard to straighten up possibilities. I mused on it in my downtime – which I had a lot of given I was, at that time, on vacation.

On November 1st, 12:00 AM, I began The Pirates of the DeeCee Beltway, a novel set in a dystopian future in the aftermath of a great second civil war in North America. As of today, November 11th, I am at eight hundred words shy of forty thousand words.

Admittedly, having a week worth of vacation time to write gave me a considerable edge. The fact that I have completed a novel’s first draft also helped. The fact that I am not married, do not have a significant other, have no children or pets also helped. For once, some of the things I was lacking were actually helping me out. And, I surprisingly embraced an inner pirate I did not know I had (if you tell any ninjas, my ghost will haunt you in the wake of my shiruken filled demise).

There are definitely pirates. There is definitely a loss of childhood for the protagonist. DeeCee is something I really need to play up better. The story opens in the skies above it (because, these are sky pirates) but after that goes to Eastern Tennessee, then Central Pennsylvania. I have it figured that the denouement is going to happen in DeeCee both on the ground and in the air. I’ll figure something out. I still have nineteen days left.

So, my challenge now isn’t ‘can I get 50K in words?’, it’s ‘how much can I do in the time given?’ 50K has proven not to be the destination… it’s the minimum required for success.

I’m going to kick November’s ass.

About the author: Maurice

Maurice Hopkins is an author, illustrator, blogger and part-time columnist for He is easily bribed with publishing offers, experience points, and diabetic-friendly cookies.