twitter stream and facebook wall are beset by writing sprints, word wars, and productivity pep talks. It's time for NaNoWriMo.
For those of you wondering what in blazes I'm talking about, that strange looking acronym up there stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every November, the gears at the NaNoWriMo website begin turning anew, and an eager community of writers wake from their virtual slumber and spring to life around it. The aim is to write a manuscript of at least fifty thousand words in the space of thirty days, and the community is chock full of encouragement and empowerment, pushing each other toward that goal. And for the first time in two years, Yours Truly will be taking part.
"Now, hold on right there," I can hear you saying already. "Aren't you writing short stories these days?" Alas, I must raise my hands in acquiescence. The jig is up. You've caught me. This year, I'm strolling right up to the gates of NaNoWriMo, kicking them in, and laying my cards on the table. Alden's not playing by the rules this time! Okay, I'll stop with the cheese. You see, I'm still going to be aiming for that fifty thousand word goal, but I'm not going to be writing a novel. I'm sticking with my shorts, hoping to knock out as many first drafts in one month as humanly possible.
This isn't without precedent for the NaNoWriMo community. In fact, a whole section of their forums has been conceded to the NaNo Rebels, who march to the beat of their own drum, guidelines be damned. Of course, we rebels aren't without our detractors. There are those who would condemn the likes of me, looking down on us as rule breakers. I've even heard a story or two of people new and unfamiliar with the community being told by some that they can't participate if they aren't working on a novel. This is, of course, ridiculous.
The whole point of NaNoWriMo (besides making literary agents dread the month of December with every fiber of their being) is that you get out of it what you put in. It's about setting a lofty goal and striving for it with all you've got, with the help and encouragement of a like-minded community. The idea that anyone should be excluded from that experience because they aren't doing exactly what you are is an affront to the spirit of the event, and the organizers have stated this repeatedly (and it's why they gave the NaNo Rebels their own stomping ground on the site in the first place).
So, if you've been peeking at participants out of the corner of your eye every time November rolls around, hesitant to leap in and give it a shot yourself because you don't think what you're writing qualifies, consider becoming a rebel. At its heart, NaNoWriMo is about personal achievement, and you should never give yourself an excuse not to achieve something.
Me, I'll be giving it my best go. I'll be honest with you—the last time I participated, I failed. I fell short of my goal and denied myself a victory lap. This time, things will be different. There's a variety of reasons for my new found confidence, not the least of which is the fact that I have a monumentally more flexible writing schedule now, but chiefly it's because my attitude is different. I consider myself a professional, and I intend to work like one. Fifty thousand words in a month? Piece of cake. Let's do this.
The rebellion begins in three days. Who's coming with me? My NaNo username is AuthorAlden.