Many of you are NaNo participants, and some of you are NaNo haters. (I don’t really understand the NaNo animosity, but it’s certainly out there!) So this is for those of you who think NaNo is a heck of a ride, a great way to challenge yourself, and a complete hoot.
Tomorrow is the 2nd and last “camp” session. Camp NaNo is basically a laid-back, small version of THE BIG EVENT, the original NaNoWriMo held each year in November. For example, according to a NaNo email I received yesterday, “During June’s session, 15,307 writers penned novels, with 1,903 of them reaching the 50,000-word goal by month’s end.” In November, 2011, 256,618 writers participated, with 36,774 “winners” (people who wrote 50,000 words or more). There were another 81,040 young writers in classrooms and online, with 16,334 winners.
Think about that for a minute… Between the November and June events (and not counting Script Frenzy in April), 55,011 people wrote at least 50,000 words on a novel. If we only give them 50,001 words each (I wrote 88,651 and 88,370 respectively), that’s still 2,750,605,011 words – not counting the hundreds of thousands of people who wrote something, even if they didn’t win.
For the NaNo haters, how can that possibly be a bad thing? Sure, a lot of it was crap. My first paintings were crap. My teenage poetry was crap. A lot of my journal entries over the years have been embarrassing crap (fortunately my handwriting is so bad I’m the only one who will ever know it!). But all that writing teaches people how to do it, how to persevere, how to plot, how to solve problems, how to FINISH. And whether or not that particular novel becomes a published work or sits in a bottom drawer somewhere, that has tremendous value.
For me, because this structure perfectly fits my personality (I’ve written about being a project person before), this is when I get my first drafts done. I can do it without an official NaNo event, but the support and forums and regional activity (which leads to after-NaNo friendships) is like having your own cheerleading squad. Because so many summer NaNo participants are young, you get to unofficially mentor young writers. You get to support people who are trying their first novel. You get to hone your own craft by helping others. It’s an awesome experience, actually!
So tomorrow, I start my new novel. I’ve written dystopian before, for my April Script Frenzy, but not together with fantasy. This is “low” fantasy, with some inter-planetary travel, and some “spacial relocation” type stuff (sort of a “beam me up, Scotty” without the sci-fi spaceship elements). Mostly it’s a dystopian thriller. I’m excited to do something new, and since it’s YA, I can write 20,000 fewer words, giving me a little more restful month.
So, my fellow WriMos, it’s the last night before Camp. Eat a good meal, pack your bags, and let’s hit the ground running tomorrow. Participate in your cabins, and on the forums. If you’re experienced, offer your help to the young ones out there. Make a difference in a young writer’s life. And most of all, have fun! See you ’round the campfire!