National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 when I heard about it from a college friend, a writer who took the craft more seriously than myself in those days. When she explained that the task was to write 50,000 words starting on November 1st and ending on the 30th, I marveled that anyone could be so bold. Amounting to just under 1700 words a day (!), I believed it impossible to produce so much in so short a time. To this day, I’ve never attempted the project myself, but each November, I remember NaNoWriMo as I first discovered it, over hot tea and cigarettes in a college café called the Tobacco Bowl (!!).
There may have been a website to join, though I’d have had to go to the campus computer lab if I’d been brave enough to sign up as one of the 21 initial participants. Now, the project attracts hundreds of thousands of international writers annually and is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organizing year-round programs.
Sara Gruen’s 2006 novel, Water for Elephants, adapted for film in 2011 (!!!) began as a National Novel Writing Month project. Though unfinished by the end of the month, the drafts Gruen produced in November resulted in a bestseller. We should all be so inspired. I admit, I’ve balked once again to commit to the challenge. But, knowing that it is going on, that writers are connecting from around the world to write together, achieving their best work by diving in head-long, comforts me as much as it always has.
Forge ahead, you wild WriMos; I’ll join you as soon as I can.
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