A Novel Performance

Photo by Nick Spang

Photo by Nick Spang

A Novel Performance was a month-long installation centered around National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which takes place each November. Over 30 days, registrants attempt to write a minimum of 50,000 words—essentially, the first draft of a novel.

My project took this challenge a step further by unveiling the writing process within a public forum. Merging literary art and performance installation, A Novel Performance explored several questions: how do writers approach the creation of book-length works? What artistic and practical challenges do writers wrestle with as their work develops? What happens to the creative process under an acutely compressed schedule? What is the role of failure in literary art, and how do writers incorporate and acknowledge its presence in their work without giving up?

As a novelist-in-residence during the month of November 2014 at Seattle Central Library, I wrote the first draft of a novel titled The Year of the Tiger and had the pleasure of daily interactions with library visitors and staff. At the conclusion of the month, I had written 70,355 words, thus winning the NaNoWriMo Challenge, one positive outcome amongst many during my installation.

Look for a public presentation of this project in 2015. Until then, you can read an account of the experience by Paul Constant in The Stranger‘s SLOG or listen to Rachel Belle’s podcast on KIRO FM. You can also read the blog post I wrote for 4Culture, which explains the underpinnings of the installation.

This project was supported, in part, by an award from 4Culture and by the fabulous staff at Seattle Public Library.

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