This, from the Small World Department: A crazy thing happened on Wednesday morning. I was meeting with a friend for coffee at the very cool Black Dog Coffeehouse. It was packed! Literally, no open tables, nobody on the verge of leaving. The place was hopping!
In order to sit down for a visit, we created a makeshift space for ourselves by pulling two disparate armchairs together in a spot not really intended for gathering.
I was explaining to my friend that I participate annually in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. All of a sudden, the woman sitting to my immediate right looked up from her laptop on which she had been diligently plugging away and exclaimed, “I’m here working on NaNoWriMo!” Then, from behind me, three voices in unison chimed in with, “We are, too!” Indeed, the four of them gather at the Black Dog every few days for a “Write In” or “Word Wars” whereby they come together for moral support and simply work on completing their 1,667 words for the day (per the rules of NaNoWriMo)!
A lively conversation ensued about NaNoWriMo. I was blown away by each of their commitment to the process, to the effort, to the people. In “NaNo years,” Amy, the local chair of the effort, is nine. Brittany, who says most of her social connections are NaNoWriMo related, is six years old. Anthony, a guy with a million or so ideas just waiting to be written about, is in year four. And, Josh, the “Word Alchemist,” is, like me, five NaNo years old. And, it won’t surprise you to learn, Amy was sporting her (very trendy) NaNoWriMo t-shirt for inspiration. How awesome is that?
I learned a lot about NaNoWriMo from my new friends. Namely…
Participants have a title. We are officially, “WriMos.”
- The community is open – even to the liars and cheaters (like me). I was relieved when I admitted my propensity to steer clear the official NaNoWriMo rules (e.g. shirking the 50,000 word the end goal; writing daily entries in advance; focusing on non-fiction instead of novel writing, recruiting guest writers, etc.) and they welcomed me anyway. In fact, they even bestowed a special title upon me: NaNoWriMo Rebel. I am so psyched about this! Apparently, I am one of many rule bending participants who are still accepted into the throng.
- Yes! Community does form in places unexpected. This cult-like group of writers-for-the-month come together in a supportive, inspirational, motivational way. They prop up one another. They urge on one another. There is no judgment. Failure is viewed as lessons-learned. They host parties during which they write… and eat… and drink (mostly caffeine laden beverages)… and give out NaNoWriMo gifts like stickers and t-shirts. They invited me to come along for the fun.
I’m just so happy I’ve found my people. To the WriMos and NaNo Rebels of the world: Enjoy the write! Huzzah!
Oh, and I’m dedicating this post to my “little” brother and fellow WriMo, Shawn, who as of yesterday morning was already at 22,211 of his 50,000 words for the month (he was only “obligated” to be at 20,004 as of that time). He’s rockin’ it! Super-proud of you, baby bro!