While they have just begun their college careers, two Connecticut College freshmen are already novelists. Cory Scarola '16 is the author of “Dust,” a self-published science fiction novel, while Natalie Calhoun ’16 has penned three 50,000-word novels – each written in just one month.
In the fall, Calhoun participated for the third time in the National Novel Writing Month’s November Challenge, which requires participants to write a novel in 30 days.
The challenge, which Calhoun first completed in 2010, doesn’t require a complete or perfect story out of its participants – just 1,667 words a day.
Each time she has participated in the challenge, Calhoun has faced obstacles. She has written while battling illness, running as part of a cross country team, and even finishing her college applications. But she says her biggest achievement was completing a 50,000-word novel during the November of her first semester at Connecticut College.
“I treated the novel like a fifth class and blocked out time for it during the day,” said Calhoun, who is also a member of the rowing team.
Calhoun encourages anyone interested in writing to give NaNoWriMo, as the challenge is called, a shot. She characterizes the challenge as a way for writers to receive encouragement from other participants and to break all the rules of conventional writing.
“It’s about getting your creative juices flowing. So many people say that they want to write a book but they just don’t have the time. NaNoWriMo shows you just how much time you have, and just how much you’re capable of doing,” she said.
Calhoun, who plans to major in environmental studies or government, currently has no plans to publish her work, but says she may consider it in the future. “My priority is just to get my ideas on paper and to express myself," she says.
Scarola took a different approach to writing. Experimenting with different settings and themes, he has been working on his novel, “Dust,” since his sophomore year of high school.
“I was already very much into creative writing at that point, and after reading about existentialism a bit, I thought that it might be neat to come up with a way to work that into a novel. At that same time I was also interested in the potential of a post-apocalyptic setting” he said.
Scarola says his biggest challenge wasn’t time, but making the story flow naturally.
“The connections between people and the transitions from event to event are meant to be different from the conventional connections, so I had to really be meticulous about having everything flow the way it’s supposed to flow,” Scarola said. He describes the final product as very organic, with his protagonist, Gregory, doing most of the storytelling.
Scarola self-published “Dust” through Amazon’s ‘Createspace,’ and it is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions. While he collects monthly royalties based on how many copies are sold, Scarola says it’s not about the money.
“I only want my work to be out there for people to see and hopefully appreciate,” he said.
Scarola is now working on a sequel to “Dust,” toying with ideas for future projects and taking classes with the goal of majoring in history, government and English.