Vernon Township Library pushes writers to produce novels
Local author Nancy Grossman talks about the writing process at a celebration party, where the writers turned in novels they wrote in a month's time. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media.
Updated: February 18, 2013 1:15AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — One of the faces that walked through the door for the program’s final meeting was one of those faces that the organizers thought they would never see again. But Terry DeMarco, who had only showed up for the first meeting of the Vernon Area Public Library’s write-a-novel-in-a-month activity, came to the last session with a copy of his first completed work in hand.
“I had chills,” he said of walking through the conference room doors for the celebratory gathering.
Out of a group that started with 60 participants, DeMarco was one of the 25 who completed the library’s first observance of National Novel Writing Month.
Begun Nov. 1 and finished Dec. 1, the nationwide program’s goal is to get undeveloped or under-appreciated talent onto their keyboards; Roz Topolski, the VAPL’s public programming and events coordinator, added that any excuse to get readers young or old to write as well is good.
“This seemed like an opportunity to really dive into it, and there were no other libraries in this part of the suburbs doing something like this, so there was this window,” Topolski said.
“Na-No-Wri-Mo,” as she and all the writers called it, is a call for aspiring novelists (as young as third grade) to put together a 50,000-word (roughly 200 to 300 pages, depending on type size and formatting) creation of any genre, just for the challenge and camaraderie. Throughout the month, the library held group training sessions with published authors to mentor the participants, which Topolski said were well-attended, but by numbers that dwindled as the month went on.
“For the first year, for 25 people to be in attendance, I thought that was really significant,” she said.
DeMarco, of Vernon Hills, did not come to the mentoring sessions — he was too busy writing. He said he grew up with a passion for words — during lunch hour in high school, he would write poetry on napkins — but had never made the time to bring a novel to life.
“I’d been telling myself that I was going to do it, and never got around to it,” he said.
But in November, he created the 57,700-word “The Quantum Passageway,” an eclectic tale of two high school sophomores in the near future who believe they have discovered a safe method of travel to Mars. To learn how that story involves car chases, an elderly couple at a campsite and one of the teens’ unborn grandsons, one would have to read the finished product.
DeMarco is planning to start sending it to agents by the end of this month. He and his son, Tony, have also self-published a children’s book at their web site, LetsReadStuff.com.
Topolski said she plans on offering the program again in 2013; DeMarco said that, regardless of how “The Quantum Passageway” pans out, he would participate in Na-No-Wri-Mo again.
“They lay down the challenge, write 50,000 words in a month, and suddenly it becomes a contest,” he said. “Writing those two words, ‘The end,’ I remember just sitting there smiling.”