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Jasperites discover their inner writer

Marta Rode was one of several Jasperites who took part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). She’s hoping to have her novel finished by next November. Submitted photo.

Marta Rode was one of several Jasperites who took part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). She’s hoping to have her novel finished by next November. Submitted photo.

A new year is usually filled with the same promises—stop procrastinating, lose weight and quit whatever vice you’re still hooked on from last year’s resolution. However, this year Marta Rode is making a different promise to herself.

Already more than 50,000 words long, Rode is hoping to finish her first novel. The project came to fruition in November when a friend told her about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a global initiative that challenges all walks of life to start and complete a novel or pen 50,000 words during the month of November.

“I won in their terms because I got 50,000 words by the end of the month, but I’m nowhere near finished the actual story. Since the month ended I’ve gone back to it a few times, but my mission this month is start again and put down 1,000 words a day,” Rode said. “I like the idea of sitting down once a day and putting some words down.”

At first Rode thought she would write about her ups and downs with autoimmune disease, an illness that kills off healthy blood cells. However, before she knew it the words were practically falling out, diving into some of her earliest memories as a child in Bulgaria.

“It starts with me being a kid in communist Bulgaria and running away from there with my family and getting caught at the Austrian border and spending some time in jail when I was 10 before coming to Canada in 1977,” she said.

When her novel is complete, Rode said she doesn’t know what will become of it.

“My 10-year-old is an avid writer and I thought at very worse when she’s older this is a really cool way for her to see what my life was like,” she said.

Unlike Rode, fellow Jasperite Susan Szathmary missed NaNoWriMo’s goal by a few thousand words. However, she said the experience taught her a lot about her family’s history.

“I always wanted to write a book because I have ancestors that were published, and I made an assumption that I was genetically inclined to write,” she said. “So I thought why not write about these writers (in my family).”

Szathmary got right to work on Nov. 1, spending hours researching, discovering several publications from three relatives and a long-lost cousin living in Calgary.

“I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. My writing became unstructured and I sometimes wrote in circles, repeating myself,” she said. “However, I’m not sad to say that I did not quite reach the goal of 50,000 words.”

Szathmary closed her book on Nov. 27 and hasn’t opened it since.

While Szathmary isn’t sure if she’ll compete in next November’s writing challenge, Rode said she’s hoping to start a new novel and will encourage her young daughter to join in on the experience.

Kayla Byrne
reporter@fitzhugh.ca

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