Like many others, I joined NaNoWriMo the first time because I thought I could write a better novel than some of the schlock I had paid money to buy and read. Long before the thirty days were up, I realized how wrong this notion had been. Writing novels is hard work. It is especially hard work for someone like me, who hates conflict and has the narrative sense of the world's most boring journal writer.
I won the first two years, with 100,000 words of my own boring schlock to shove to the back of the filing cabinet. I lost the next two years, one year because real life kicked my aspirations, and the other because my story was so boring that even the characters grew tired of it. Still, I added another 30,000 words of junk to the previous batch.
On December 1 last year, I swore I had NaNoed my last. On November 1 of this year, I was back at the computer writing, "Carson looked over the crowd of sixty and seventy and eighty year olds and sighed." What happened to change my mind?
It's people. NaNoWriMo is people!
After 2002, I took up with the Filthy Pikers, founders of the Piker Press, and they became my online writing comrades. As time went on, many of them became real-life friends as well. Many of the Pikers NaNo every year. It was enjoyable to participate in something together with them.
Then last year, someone stepped up and offered to become a Municipal Liaison for my city. At last we were able to have write-ins and Thank God It's Over parties, just like they have in the big cities. Even though I flamed out before 50,000 words, I still kept up with the group as much as possible. A few of us continued to write together throughout the year, and got to be better acquainted without the time pressure of thirty day noveling.
When it got to be October this year, talk turned to our plans for November. The kick-off party sounded like it would be fun, and it would be weird going to write-ins if I wasn?t actually writing. Plus, I had a tiny germ of an idea, and I wouldn't be traumatized if it doesn't turn out well, because I've already accepted that I may never get the hang of writing fiction.
Mostly, I just like being there, cheering on my friends, sharing in the energy, and being part of something that is bigger than any of us. Writing junk doesn't seem so bad when you have company.
Then, this year, an amazing thing happened. When I am face to face with other writers three and four times a week, I write. I write a lot. I have a little competitive streak, and I like having a respectable word count to share when they kick us out of Panera at closing time. I've been staying ahead on my word count goals. I've written some utter garbage, and I've written some stuff that didn?t stink up the joint.
And don?t spread it around, but I'm having a blast doing it.
Curious about novel writing? Have a look at National Novel Writing Month!
Piker contributors who have signed up to write a 50,000 word novel during November include Lydia Manx, Jon Renaut, Cheryl Haimann, Josh Brown, Mark Swarthout, Sand Pilarski, Jerry Seeger, Chris Miller, Mary Klaebel, Schizophrenic Chick, Cherry Kelly, Dan Mulhollen, Holly Jahangiri, Wendy Robards, and Mel Trent. Good luck and good writing to us all!