By Hannah Neumann
Kingsville senior James Herd, an already published novelist, is using November’s National Novel Writing Month as an opportunity to launch the start of his second book series.
Herd’s first published novel, “I am the Darkness,” is the first book of a planned seven-book series called “The Intermine Legacy,” which he began his sophomore year at Baylor. Herd is now halfway through his second book of the series, which he plans to release between January and March of next year. For this year’s writing month, he will deviate from the series to start on a new one.
According to the National Writing Month organization’s website, the monthlong event values enthusiasm, determination, a deadline and is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel. On Nov. 1, participants started working toward the goal of writing a novel by the end of the month, using the site to fuel their determination.
The Waco community chapter of National Novel Writing Month, who call themselves the Waco Wrimos, has 586 members each currently working to meet a Nov. 31 deadline for their own novel completion and will participate in events together throughout the next few weeks to review and critique each other’s work. Herd said the challenge is to write 50,000 words for a novel by the end of the month.
“They always say that the goal isn’t necessarily to get a publishable novel in that month, but just to get something done,” Herd said. “As the information age progresses, people are reading less and less, but I have a feeling we can reverse it and make books and creativity a thing again, and I think part of National Novel Writing Month’s goal is supporting that process and that hobby.”
Herd said he encourages anyone who shares his passion to join the National Novel Writing Month community and accept the challenge this month.
“I know a lot of people don’t have the time and it’s not exactly feasible to devote all of your time to writing a novel,” Herd said. “But I still strongly encourage everyone to get involved and with Waco having their own group, people can get in contact with other writers and have that peer system going on. It’s a lot of fun to write something and have someone else critique it. Especially when they really know what they’re talking about.”
Baylor alumnus David Umstattd said while of course a person doesn’t have to be part of the National Novel Writing Month community to write a novel, it is a very useful tool for the process.
“The big reason is not only the community aspect but also the establishment,” he said. “It’s almost more of a custom and it makes writing a novel not only more exciting but also easier, psychologically.”
Umstattd also said he attributes a lot of his passion in writing to his time at Baylor, including one of his common subjects, Anime. According to the Animeworld website, Anime is a style of animation originating in Japan that is characterized by stark colorful graphics in action-filled plots often with fantastic or futuristic themes.
“I was exposed to a lot of great writing in my Baylor academic career,” he said. “Aside from my Great Texts courses, which have been really helpful, I found Anime at Baylor, which, over time, I’ve started to consider the greatest literary art form of the modern era.”
For the National Writing Month contest, Herd will write the first book of a new potential series called “From Atop the Tower of Babel.”
“Essentially the idea is that in the near future, America is taken over and reformed into more of a republic of nations that consists of Canada, North America and South America,” he said. “It’s that against Europe and there’s a whole political history plot going on. It’ll be interesting to dabble in this new project.”
Herd said his end goal, whether it be for his first series, the series he is now beginning to create or anything he writes in the future, is to bring his characters to life.
“Whenever I was little, and even to this day, I find that I have the most creative process when I’m alone in my room and in my head I go through these dialogue conversations for characters,” he said. “I feel like I have a duty to make these characters’ stories known.”