Writer Catherine Simpson must live an experience before she puts it down on paper.
“I eventually lived enough experiences to actually fill what I expect to be my first novel,” she said.
The novel she’s working on this month, National Novel Writing Month, chronicles the surprising relationships, particularly through online dating, that she built in her first six months in Auburn.
She’s written several pieces, which she has posted to her blog, but she tries to start something new each November.
Simpson, 26, began this novel in May and is about halfway done. But unlike with her previous pieces, she may keep this work off the web and try to get it into the hands of a publisher.
Many writers also strive to complete a novel. Each year, writers around the nation take the NaNoWriMo challenge to complete a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month. Though Simpson admits she’s not doing too well in achieving the monthly work-count goal this year, November always inspires her to write more.
She feels her best work lies in nonfiction when she writes about the experiences she can truly describe. She feels more invested in the piece that way.
“Anytime something doesn’t happen for real it feels forced,” she said. “Since it really didn’t happen, it couldn’t really happen.”
Simpson has written regularly since she was 16 years old, studying literature at Georgia State before moving from Atlanta to Auburn two years ago to work at the Auburn Public Library.
“It’s just a very good positive environment and culture that November creates,” she said of writing with others at the library. “You really don’t feel alone in your endeavors, which I think is important.”
The Auburn Public Library hosts workshop days throughout the week in November, something it decided to continue after a successful turnout last year, said Ashley Brown, engagement and outreach librarian at the library.
“Some of the people who came finished. They did the 50,000 words,” she said.
The library, serving as a designated writing space, will host write-ins every Wednesday from 4-5:30 p.m. and Thursday from 6:30-8 p.m., except on Nov. 24.
It will have an all-night write and door prize drawing on Nov. 30 from 4-7 p.m. as writers wrap up the monthly challenge.
“The library wants to support our local writers,” Brown said.
The most difficult part of writing is eliminating distractions, Simpson said, which often leads her to cut off the WiFi and turn off her phone. Sometimes she even ventures out to a park and forces herself to write on pen and paper.
She urges budding writers this month to be honest by being themselves on paper rather than overthinking who their audience is. The piece will resonate with people if it’s honestly written.
“As vulnerable as that makes you,” she said, “the more vulnerable the better, in my opinion.”