Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Last Year at This Time: Nov PAD Challenge

So this year I've returned to the adventure of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) after taking last year off. After all, fiction writing isn't my thing. My participation in NaNoWriMo in 2008 marked my first foray into fiction writing since college, and somehow, nonfiction writer though I am, I was hooked.

I think it was the freedom of NaNoWriMo that drew me in, hypnotizing me into writing until the wee small hours most nights when the rest of the household slept. I wrote with only a single sheet of notes in front of me: just a class schedule, a few background notes, a few street names. And I just let my fingers roam, typing whatever came to mind as I followed my main character around, describing what she did, what she said, how she felt.

I finished the challenge in 2008, and in 2009 I attempted and succeeded in completing the second half of the 2008 novel. It was a heady feeling for a nonfiction writer usually bound by facts, writing stories straight from my brain with such abandon.

But when 2010 rolled around, too many obligations filled my proverbial plate to consider participating in NaNoWriMo, so I tackled a different challenge that I thought would take less time and less energy.

I was wrong about that last part. My choice for last November's writing challenge was anything but quick and easy. In fact, I'm pretty darn sure that I spent more time on it per day than I did with NaNoWriMo.

Robert Lee Brewer, the editor of Poets Market offered his annual Nov (November) PAD (Poem a Day) Chapbook Challenge on his Poetic Asides blog on the Writers Digest website. In past years I had pounced on the opportunity of NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) in April, but with the main website that hosted it now defunct, Brewer's poem-a-day challenge truly appealed to me.

While I enjoyed the different daily prompts which evoked some very different poems from me than I had composed previously, the major advantage to the Nov PAD Chapbook Challenge was the contest itself: a chapbook of poems composed during the Nov PAD Challenge would be chosen by Brewer (and perhaps be published?).

Plus, with some fairly impressive names in poetry participating, some of my poems received some excellent feedback from contemporary poets. The movers-and-shakers of the American poetry scene were coming to my blog and leaving very helpful comments to help me improve some of my more promising efforts.

Brewer's daily prompts seemed fairly simple on the surface, but when explored more deeply, the possibilities (and thus my imagination) abounded. Over the course of the month, my writing deepened and broadened wonderfully, maturing me both as a writer and a poet. And isn't that what we desire more than anything?

If poets decide to participate in NaNoWriMo, Brewer also hosts a Poem a Day challenge in April as well, his own version of NaPoWriMo. So all is not lost if November is too busy to join the Nov PAD Chapbook Challenge.

Link for the rules for Nov PAD Chapbook Challenge:

Link for Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog (the site of the challenge):

Writing with you this month,

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