What does NaNoWriMo mean to me? ML HuskersGirlLaura
That’s a bit of a loaded question. One that brings up a great deal of emotion as well. I first heard of NaNoWriMo back in 2003, and first attempted it in 2004.
I didn’t get very far that first year. I was still in high school, and had a couple of major papers due during the month and not terribly supportive parents. I also didn’t have a personal internet access. The only computer in the house with internet was the main computer and I couldn’t easily garner the satisifaction of watching the bar on the graph grow with every couple hundred words. I also didn’t have easy capability to join the local group, so for the first few years, I was entirely on my own, which felt extremely devastating. But it was also the first time that someone said to me that they believed in me and they had absolutely no obligation to say it in the first place. 2005 was a disaster that I try not to remember.
Then, in 2006 I went to college – and I didn’t do very well there. I ended up dropping out. Life was a bit screwy for a while and I ended up working full time. 2007, I tried to handwrite in my so-called spare time. Had I gotten very far, I would have managed to write a murder story. However, I entirely recognize that I had no idea what the hell I was doing, and scrapped the entire idea. 2008 was a slightly more spectacular failure. I was okay with that. I’d started making friends in the NaNo’verse and was finally figuring out what being a part of a group could do. I was also working full time, going to school full time, and going through clinicals for an EMS degree at that time. Through each failure, I still was getting told that NaNoWriMo believed in me. And that’s what kept me coming back.
2009, however, was the first time that I joined the local group. I also had forgotten about NaNoWriMo until Nov 1st that year. I’d just the month before gotten a new barely-covering-the-bills full time job, and had sat down on break, a table over from a guy I would later discover a dear friend in – but had recently deciphered that he was a professional wordsmith. I wrote 16 words that day. Didn’t have a fucking clue about anything more than my soon to be viable world had magic. It stayed that way for the first five days, and then my main character had a name. Aili. It took me most of the month to sort out what was going on, and I didn’t figure out the full “how” of the story for a few more years. It was the first time I didn’t plan. It was the first time I literally didn’t plan any part of how I would partake in NaNoWriMo, and it was my first win. I pretty much have not planned since. I’ve adjusted myself into a pantser for NaNoWriMo and have stayed that way ever since. It helped a lot that I had the local group to compete with. Well, “compete” in the most obtuse sort of way. I also hadn’t planned on joining the group, I was still in a situation that made it hard for me to get places, but my dad had wanted to go get a coffee at barnes and nobles – and I pretty much tripped over the NaNoMemphis group, tucked in the corner made by the door. It was one of the very few times I’ve ever been in Barnes and Nobles and didn’t come back out with a book in my hands.
Over the next several years, I knew that I had to give back. NaNoWriMo had revealed itself to be one of the only things that could drag me out of a major depressive funk. There were times that I would literally only attempt to be a civilized human being because it meant one less day to NaNo. Eventually, I signed up as a ML, and I highly doubt that I’ll step down anytime soon. I enjoy doing NaNo every single year, and I hope to help spread the joy of actually winning it and proving that you can do whatever it is that you want.