• Daniela Sylmae

Writer's Journey | Chapter 4: When She Embarked on her Quest of NaNoWriMo 2020

This November, I am challenging myself to write 50,000 words. What a terrifyingly thrilling thought...

National Novel Writing Month is a time for writers to join together in a challenge unlike any other. For some, it is a challenge they take on every year. For others, this is the month they finally decide to write that book they've been holding off.

For me, it is a challenge I've only won once before, and I'm nervous yet motivated to try it once again.

In the summer of 2019, I decided to take on Camp NaNo. For those who don't know, Camp NaNo is a spin off the original challenge where you can set the challenge yourself, without the pressure of having it be to write 50,000 words.

However, I was giddy with this fresh new idea for a trilogy that I felt compelled to write those 50,000 words. I wrote 50,493 words to be exact.

The experience was such a rewarding one. I dedicated myself to this story that was just begging to be written. I learned about myself and what works best for me. I cheered myself on, and I felt overjoyed when I hit those 50,000 words.

Still, it was a challenge. Every single writer that takes on NaNoWriMo deserves all the best writer goodies and snacks, because it is not easy.

Truthfully, I have known about NaNoWriMo for several years. However, school always took priority whenever November came around, especially in college when final exams were around the corner.

This year, however, I don't have any homework assignments or club meetings. As a writer who has followed NaNoWriMo for many years, it feels right to take on NaNoWriMo during the month of November. Not only right.

It feels special.

Since my project for Camp NaNo was the first book in my trilogy, it only makes sense to take on book two during NaNo 2020. I've also been working so hard on the short story collection that I haven't really given my trilogy some love, except for the worldbuilding aspect since the world is also the setting for an ongoing D&D campaign I run.

During Preptober, I finished up the draft of the first book, reviewed my outline for the second, and I created my series scrapbook which has all the essential information about the story. I feel ready, though still nervous.

But let's put those nerves aside and get excited. Let me tell you all about the trilogy! The working title of my trilogy is...


A smokeless, never-ending fire breathes life into the world of Maanosa, its magic shielding the kingdoms from the chaotic forces of the uninhabitable lands, so it is to the surprise of almost no one among the six kingdoms that the war began when the Babel Temple that houses the fire went missing.

When King Gregorius Bray of Alderwine tries to claim the sacred Babel Temple as his own, there is outcry across the land. An outcry that leads to the killing of Karsa Jayn's father. When Karsa realizes he may still be alive, Karsa seeks out the missing Babel Temple to find him.

Karsa leaves her kingdom for the first time and faces the world on her own. She follows the trail left behind by her father, but along the way, she realizes the war is not just between the kingdoms. As the land weakens, there is another searching for the Babel Temple, and Karsa must find it before this mysterious person does.

All told in the voice of Jaxom Quilliam, a writer who is compelled to chronicle this tale before his imminent death, this fantasy trilogy follows the adventures of Karsa Jayn, and in turn, the origin tale of the great kingdoms of Maanosa.

This is a story that came into my life at a moment where I had no time to be working on a massive project like a trilogy. I tried to ignore it, thinking I can always work on it when I get the chance, but I just could not stop thinking about it.

Though there are so many other stories of mine that I love, this one is close to my heart. It's my dream to traditionally publish this trilogy.

This challenge is just one step in me getting closer to that dream.

So, to kick things off this NaNoWriMo, here's the tiniest of excerpts from my first draft of book one:

When I secluded myself to the mountainside, I promised to never lift a quill again. My days as a traveling writer have ended. My adventures have been documented in my travel magazine, The Piper’s Ashtray. All I wanted was peace from the ache of my fingers.

Yet here I am, thirty years later, with a quill in my trembling hands. Not to mention, with only three days left to live.

I can’t explain it, but there is a voice telling me to write the tale of Karsa Jayn. I can lie and say it is for the sake of documenting the origin story of Maanosa, but I don’t like lying. So, I will say, truthfully, there is a voice urging me to write this story as my last.

It’s so convenient that I have spent time with the key players of this story to know how to tell it. It is even more convenient that Karsa Jayn herself, that sweet old wisp, sent me her private journal for sake-keeping. Quiet as you are, Fate, you certainly are not subtle.

It smells of her. The leather has that scent of Alderwine steam and honeysuckle. Its pages are stained with old age, and the cogs on the cover are irreparably rusty. Rightfully so, this journal has traveled all over the land without rest. It deserves to be a bit worse for wear, and proudly so.

As painful as it is to know that I may find myself with a broken hand for how much writing I must do in such little time, my chest feels heavier still not knowing why I have this urge to spend my last few days writing it. Though the end is inevitable, it is a mystery I cannot leave unsolved.

Stories tell each reader a specially-curated truth. It is a truth only that story can tell that particular reader. This story is begging me to write it, so there is a hidden truth that I must find.

I will probably start this story as I do any. I will write it as the editor of the news journal, The Piper’s Ashtray, who wishes to tell the tale of Maanosa. I will write its last words as Jaxom Quilliam who wishes to tell the story of the woman who found herself in a journey to find the lost Babel Temple.

Best keep the kettle going.

Wish me luck!