In 2008, when I was some now forgotten grade in high school, I stumbled upon NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t the foggiest what that is, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), is a month long challenge where you try to write the rough draft of a novel (50,000 words) in 30 days. If you hit that word goal, you win serious bragging rights and have a finished draft of a novel. I won that first year, with a story I had been working on since I was twelve.
Fast-forward to now. I’ve been working on said story off and on for just under twenty years. Writing that sentence makes me feel much older than I actually am, which brings us back to NaNoWriMo.
This year NaNo (as we affectionately call it) turns twenty. It seems appropriate that I’m doing a story I’ve been working on almost as long as NaNo is old. It’s been delightful to watch NaNoWriMo become a world wide phenomenon, helping people put down that first draft and help them on their way to publication.
As NaNo has grown, so have I. Blessedly growth is inevitable over the course of seventeen years. And as I’ve grown, so has my story.
When I was twelve, I was idealistic and downright naive. I thought I could write a book that everyone would be allowed to read and want to read. I did my best to make the story a carbon copy of a bestseller-that-shall-not-be-named (brownie points if you catch the reference) and came close to succeeding. When I was thirteen I realized that was called plagiarism and I worked on making something unique. And here we are, sixteen years later. For the twentieth anniversary of NaNoWriMo I’m writing the start of a dark Young Adult fantasy series. A large leap from my typical, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for a story as I am for this one.
Looking at the plot, the world building, the characters, I can still see some of that twelve year-old idealism. And frankly, I like that. There’s that pool of darkness, and within it there’s a drop of hope. That hope comes in the shape of diversity, magic and snark. And of course a fair dose of idealism on the part of some of the characters. But sometimes that’s what you need. A little bit of idealism, a little bit of hope.
That’s the spirit of NaNoWriMo after all. Setting a seemingly impossible goal, coming together, and doing your best. Win or lose (and trust me I’ve failed far more times than I’ve succeeded), the results are beautiful.
By the time you read this I’ll be four days into the madness and joy that NaNoWriMo gives me. If you’d like to know more about what I’m writing and get cryptic hints, you should mosey on over to my Instagram or Facebook page. If you’re one of the many doing NaNo this year I would love to learn about what you’re working on and toss some encouragement your way! After all, learning about other’s writing projects is half the fun.
Whatever your goal is, to read more, to write a novel, or just survive the month, I’m rooting for you. We’ve got this.