I haven’t been the best about blogging this month what with getting in word counts, but it seemed appropriate to share here my response to #whatnanomeanstome as posted to my personal blog. It does involve you all after all.
I was reading through my email today (I haven’t gone to bed yet so I am still in denial that it is past midnight) and saw that with today being Donation Day for NaNoWriMo* there is a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #whatnanomeanstome. Being in my 7th year as a NaNo participant and 6th as a ML**, I went over to the Twitter to craft a tweet to join the horde only as I stared at it words failed me. How could I sum up when NaNo means to me in 140 characters?
Obviously the answer is to write a blog post and short link it. That’s how I roll.
I could not have imagined in the fall of 2005 when my friend Sarah mentioned this writing challenge thing that it would mean what it does to me now. That year I had a NaNo that I use now as a cautionary tale to my region of why one should always back up your novel in multiple places. I lost my work in progress THREE TIMES before I threw up my hands and said I’d try again next year.
Six years later I am glad that I tried again.
When I joined my new region it was a hodge podge of writers whose ML – the person who organizes things – had disappeared just before the month started, so we arranged our own write-in and the dark parking lot of Schueler’s Books that night three of us decided that we wanted more.
I may be a NaNo ‘winner’ five times over but I do not have the words to describe how excited I was to realize the other day that our regional calendar this year has something going for our writers almost every day of the month. Our kick-off was awesome (Thank you, Jim Hines!) and our write-ins have been packed. Our new Guilt Monkey program has been met with enthusiasm, which has led to a new writing buddy of mine – Ferdinand the Ferocious.
This really does tie into what NaNo means to me. I think I would love NaNoWriMo as a program even if I just used it as an excuse to all out write for a month, but it is so much more than that. It is this amazing community that spans the globe that encourage and challenge each other along the way. Sometimes they kick your butt when you’ve been loafing on your word count. Other times they are lending you a hand and word of encouragement when you just feel like you can not make it through.
This year I have two friends in the region that I met through NaNo and I can tell you quite truthfully that I would not be at 35,005 words right now if not for our friendly competition. I may not talk to them every day, but I know that we are all keeping an eye on each other’s word counts.
The same can be said of previous years. I may not have ever been this far ahead, but I made my goal in part because I knew I had people cheering me along as I got in those last 500 words before the cut off. It really is a community and it has been both wonderful and humbling to be a part of seeing it grow. We are all ages and all walks of life, but when we come together we have a common thread that is astonishingly strong in spite of that – or perhaps because of it.
One of the things that I want from life is to make a difference in the lives of those around me and watching our writers blossom is an incredible thing. Everybody has a story. It is just a matter of finding it.
It is not just about the community, though. I have been writing in some form for as long as I can remember, but NaNoWriMo pushes me and I do believe that it has made me become a better writer. Not that you could probably tell from my unedited piece of fiction in progress, but it has made me consider how I write best, what my strengths are, what my weaknesses are and plot out beyond a short story.
NaNoWriMo is a place where creativity is allowed to flourish. We talk a fair amount about constraints in the design world and how they force us to think beyond what our modus operandi might be to explore entirely new possibilities. NaNo does that. You do not have time to dwell on the details and so you do not get stuck in them – unless you really need an extra 500 words.
To sum it up, what NaNoWriMo is to me is a community where creativity thrives and invites you to thrive along with it no matter what your background, age or ethnicity. It has blessed my life and so I have and continue to support it.
P.S. I have not been part of the group who are doing the things they are thankful every day, but I am thankful for NaNoWriMo. I am thankful for the awesome people I have met and had a chance to write alongside, my wonderful co-ML and the opportunity to be a part of such a great program. Maybe this coming year I’ll even finish one of my NaNo novels 😉
P.P.S. In the spirit of NaNo only minimal editing was done of this before posting. My inner editor is locked away in Saskatchewan at until Dec. 1.
*National Novel Writing Month
**Municipal Liasion aka those who attempt to wrangle cats, I mean, writers in their region. Also organizers of events and disseminators of information.