Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaNoWriMo, Day One

This is, without a doubt, the silliest way to do a marathon.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, and I'm sure Chris Baty, among others, is amazed at how this venture has grown.

In 1999, it started as a pod of 21 amateur writers in the San Francisco Bay area, challenging each other to write a book in 30 days. That was the challenge: write 50, 000 words in one month. He (or she) who made it to the end of 50,000 and survived won nothing but bragging rights.

Thus began the international craze that is NaNoWriMo. The "contest" grew beyond their server capacities: more participants, more referrals, more neat ways of procrastinating... 21 people swelled into tens of thousands of participants. Last year, I believe it was well over 100,000 participants from umpteen countries (most of whom, I've realized, I've "friended" in Facebook).

I think they'd considered changing the title to International Novel Writing Month, but it just didn't have the same ring to it. InnaNoWriMo? GloboNoWriMo?

(Wanna learn more about the history of NaNoWriMo? Click here. But until about Nov 10, be prepared for delays.)

And it's more than just a contest. As you may have read from previous posts, I'm big on organizations that encourage young people to explore their talents as well. The Office of Letters and Light (the angels behind NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy) collect donations for youth events they organize and equip. I plan to donate, and I think anyone who signs up for this should at least consider the $10 gift.

This will be my third year participating! In upcoming blogs, I'll tell you about the projects in the first two years, and where those projects have led me.

This year, maybe in retribution for my "NaNoTriMo" last year, Michael Lorenson put the challenge to me, and he was backed by his newfound co-conspirators: Mady Virgona and Tobin Elliott. The challenge was to not exceed 2000 words per day. Foolishly...FOOLISHLY, I SAY...I accepted the challenge, with the terms that all three of them would participate in this year's NaNo with me.

Today, the first day of NaNo'ember, I went to Mady's place to cheer her on, work on some CWC stuff (event on the 21st - more about that later), and to write my 2000 words.

Okay, let's do some math.

The first time I did a WriMo, I wrote 50,000 words in 9 days.

The second time I did a WriMo, I wrote 177,000 words in 30 days (hence, NaNoTRIMo - three times what I was supposed to do).

The last marathon I was in was 72-hours long, and I wrote 55,000 words. Okay, granted, it was crap, but STILL!

It took me just shy of an hour to overshoot 2000 words, and another 30 minutes to bring it back down to my quota. Mady heard a lot of weeping and cursing tonight.

And it's still Sunday! Why did I agree to a cap of 2000 words, for goodness sake?

But here's the thing I love about marathons like NaNoWriMo. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have met Mike, Mady, Maryse, Chris, Brian, Hendrik or JayBee; if it wasn't for the Muskoka Literacy Council, I wouldn't have met Martin, Amy, Paula, Tracey, Tracey, Susan, Susan, Karen, Jacqui...

Heck, if I excluded every writer from my friends list in Facebook, I wouldn't have any more neighbours in Farmville!

Any writer can chunk out 50,000 words, and any writer can challenge themselves to write it in 30 days. But events like NaNoWriMo are more than just marathons, they're more than just excuses for friends and family to roll their eyes at us, and it's more than just another excuse for leaving dirty dishes in the sink. It's a social networking phenomenon, and I love every second of it.

Follow my progress: Margo Lane is my screen name.

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