Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Novels, News, and New Friends

November is almost upon us. This year I finally remembered what that means: NaNoWriMo. You know, NAtional NOvel-WRIting MOnth. I heard about it years ago from a friend in the dorms who was valiantly trying to write an entire, 50,000-and-up-word novel while struggling through our first quarter of college. In other words, writing 8 pages per day even though we were so new to campus that we still got lost on the way to our classes. Good luck.

Writing is my job now, so I can actually do this: as in, devote time to it. I can actually spend a month holed up in my office-cave trying to write a book out of one of the hundreds of ideas that have been floating around my head forever.

My husband was not too pleased with the idea. He was afraid I would forget to eat, never see another soul, and be very unhappy. So I promised him: I will eat. I will sleep: for enough time and at normal hours. I will go to church and see friends. I will exercise. I will go on dates with you (I will need it!). I will, in fact, put my work down every evening and not pick it up again until after breakfast the next day.

Within those bounds, I will write 2,000 words per day. The minimum goal for the months is 50,000 words. If you finish your novel, you submit it to the NaNoWriMo site and they declare you a winner. It's like a marathon, but with writing.

Hundreds of thousands of people around the globe participate in NaNoWriMo. It's a big thing in fiction book world.

Writing is an isolating occupation. Most of your writing involves zero interaction. NaNoWriMo gets us talking to each other. It has forums for different genres, ages, locales, fans. Forums for people writing a sci-fi mystery thriller but can you help me figure out why the perpetrator did it because I just can't figure out a good motive for him. Forums for people with mental illness. Forums for writers with kids.

It's not just online. My local library has a dedicated NaNoWriMo room. A local nano-er announced that he be at such-and-such coffee shop every Saturday for any to join him. Someone said their church is open several week-nights with free snacks and wifi for nano-ers.

The feeling that I fit somewhere is strong. Here I have the chance to be with people who know what it's like to outline, research, and ruminate; people who understand the finesse you have to use to get a character to do what you want; people who know the power of the VSS and when to use it.

I've been chasing that kind of community all my life. There's a magic that fills a room when everyone has something in common. I found it in a group of people who loved Lord of the Rings and knew the Angerthas runes. I found it in a silent classroom full of peers whose hands twirled and we communicated with our fingers and faces only, eyebrows rising and falling to the syntactical rhythm of American Sign Language. I found it in a dorm hall designated for those who didn't want to party it up on weekends, who spent Fridays playing sardines instead of beer-pong.

I found it in a campus fellowship who believed in being a place for those with questions about Jesus, not those who think they know the answers. I found it in my linguistics classes, surrounded by jokes about wugs and Noam Chomsky, studying syntax trees in a group who studied enough languages between us to speak to 45% of the world's population. I found it in an apartment of girls who laughed at the same jokes, oozed over Doctor Who, and were, almost all of them, from homeschooled families whose father's name was David. (It's a small world, ya'll.)

I can't wait to find it with other people who think up crazy adventures with impossible people and agonize over word counts.

So excuse me for being gone for a little while. I'm spending these last few days of October tying up loose ends with my work and preparing a number of blog posts to come out during the next month. I'll be back in December and I can guarantee that I will miss you before then, but I'm not allowed to come back early or else I might fall behind on my novel. Hold me to it! 2,000 words a day, here I come.

Oh, and I will take a break on November 23rd to watch the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. In case you were still wondering about my priorities.

* I should probably specify that I'm not actually one of those people who obsessed over their grade in school, just very close to one. I simply don't feel right if I'm not putting my whole effort into something.