~ By Melina Kantor
When it comes to NaNoWriMo, I’m known for being. . . enthusiastic. I start getting excited in October, if not sooner. In November, I walk around with my NaNo tote bag and my NaNo hoodie. Yup. I take it that seriously.
The month long noveling frenzy has been a huge part of my life since November 2007, which is when I wrote my very first novel.
This year, NaNoWriMo was extra special. It’s my fourth NaNo in Jerusalem, and because of all the participation we had this year, it was the first time the community even began to compare to what I remember from New York (though our small but mighty group was always great). Honestly, I couldn’t have asked to be part of a nicer, more giving, enthusiastic group of writers.
But, come Day 29, I was losing steam. I was a day and a half behind, and not feeling very well. I’d plotted my novel, but I’d gone through most of my plot and was too tired to figure out what else to add.
Lucky for me, that was the day one of my fellow Wrimos invited us to write on her boat in the Jaffa Port. Even luckier for me, I didn’t cancel even though I woke up feeling awful. (A huge shout out to the group for being so very patient with me.)
As soon a we got out of the car and immediately smelled the sea, I knew it was going to be an experience I’d never forget.
Read on for highlights.
1. It felt great to be out of the intensity of Jerusalem, and in a place I’d only been to once (yup, that’s a collage of the setting of my story on the screen).
2. I put my hero and heroine on a boat, and then I made my heroine seasick. Since I was feeling really seasick myself, after not feeling well to begin with, it wasn’t a stretch. In fact, I was so dizzy I swore that the ramp onto the boat was moving. Rationally, I know it wasn’t, but to me it was spinning all over the place. Turns out, my character has similar reactions to boats. Who knew? (Again, a shout out to our host for being so patient.) But, all that upped my word count.
3. There was a lot of laughter. A typo like this on a menu and a bunch of writers? Hysterical.
4. I saw how close I was to the setting of my book (my family’s village in Crete)! Thanks for pointing that out, Victoria!
5. How can you not be inspired in such a gorgeous place? (Note the “Jaffa Oranges.”)
6. The company was fabulous! Every time one of us reached a milestone, like 1,000 new words, we cheered. If we had a plot issue, we voiced it. I won’t lie. Friendly peer pressure also helps.
Here’s some of what some of the other “boat writers” had to say:
All the write-ins organised during the month helped me to get my novel written. Writing is usually such a solitary activity, and sharing the experience with others who are attempting the same thing at the same time provides much needed encouragement.
I particularly enjoyed our day on a boat in the port of Jaffa, five of us typing away as the boat gently bobbed on the waves. By chance, my characters were looking out at the same Mediterranean Sea, but further north, on a similar sunny day.
In short, my fourth NaNoWriMo was by far the best I’ve experienced.
We met in cozy coffee shops, Israel’s most legendary literary cafe, and a rustic high tech work hub. But the most amazing space of all was a boat docked in one of the most ancient ports on earth – Jaffa. I’d already finished my draft. Being on the boat in great company, surrounded by history and gently rocked by waves I closed my eyes and typed three pages inspired by a mystical Jewish concept of the Bible, using the concept of the horizon to create a modern commentary for my story. It was a truly creative highlight of the entire month.
There was a moment during NaNoWriMo that stands out for me. I was sitting on the aft deck of the boat in the Jaffa Port, from where real and fictional characters have arrived and left: Napoleon, Ramses, Neptune, Jonah. I was typing away, lost in the creation of the daily 1667 words, when I looked up at the water, the light, the light on the water – and I thought wow! I got here. This is all I have ever wanted. I am writing a book. Bonus: I am writing a book on a boat. Although there was water flowing beneath me, I know support and encouragement of our group that gave me the ground to make this commitment to myself and my gift. Sigh. Bliss.
~ Our Wonderful Host, Margot
Point is, if you feel you’re in a rut and are suffering from writer’s block, do something completely out of the ordinary. I continued the scenes I wrote that day and made it to the 50K word finish line the next morning. I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity!
Has a change of scenery ever helped you with your writing? Tell us about it in the comments!
Happy Writing! 🙂
Melina writes contemporary romance with a pinch of oregano and a dash of chutzpah. She loves to travel, especially to her family’s village in Crete, and turn her adventures into research for her novels. In July of 2012, she moved to Jerusalem with her adorable but sneaky cocker spaniel. Visit her at http://melinakantor.com.
She has been an avid NaNoWriMo participant since 2007, and this year was one of the municipal liaisons for the Jerusalem region.