by Luke Putvin
The beginning of November brings a lot of things; whether it is preparing for the holidays and the stress that comes with it, decorating for winter or any number of things. For some, it also brings the challenge to write a novel. National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 with the challenge:
Write 50,000 words of a novel. Though 50,000 words may not be as long as one of the Harry Potter books or something like War and Peace, there are many classics that are around the 50,000-word mark. These include The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Great Gatsby, Fight Flub, Of Mice and Men, Slaughterhouse-Five and countless others.
All of this to say: 50,000 words is no easy task.
“The challenge leaves little room to dwell on writing proficiency, and often pushes people to step aside themselves and accomplish something they normally wouldn’t otherwise,” said Stephanie Ridiculous, Municipal Liaison (ML) for NaNoWriMo in Snohomish County. “It’s a bold challenge, both long and short enough to be doable. Who hasn’t done a 30 day challenge these days?”
Stephanie said that she has been writing for as long as she can remember, sneakily staying up past her bedtime to write marvelously fantastical stories. “For NaNo, I primarily write high fantasy, but my 2015 novel was a post-apocalyptic sci-fi mutant/zombie novel.”
She joined NaNoWriMo back in 2015, and she decided to become the ML the following year. “Leading the NaNoSnoCo effort has been incredibly rewarding and is just plain fun. I keep coming back because our community is amazing and heading it up is a joy.”
“Writing on your own has its time and place, but why write alone if you don’t have to? When you join NaNoSnoCo people will immediately want to know how you are doing, how your writing is going, and will take an active stance of cheering you on with loving accountability… I have seen meals provided to someone in a rough patch, support with the loss of a loved one, genuine friendships develop, empathy and commiseration during difficult circumstances, and a seemingly endless amount of love and real community. Knowing that you aren’t attempting this wild feat of writing endurance alone never hurts, either,” Stephanie said.
Stephanie has about 400 participants “homed” in Snohomish County within her group with an estimated hundred that bounce between King and Snohomish counties. She also mentioned that on their online Discord forum, writers join them from across the world. Some of those writers are from Texas, California, Ireland, Norway, and a few others.
“Storytelling is an expression of self; an acknowledgment of personal history, imagination, and hope. Through stories we understand the world and people around us,” she said. “Writing requires investigation, discovery, and contemplation. It means being seen and known, sharing a part of yourself with the rest of the world. Reading a story allows you to experience, live, and share in things you never would otherwise. They bridge gaps, connect folks, and create a shared understanding. Your story matters because you are literally the only person who can write it. And it’s worth writing because everyone can benefit from that shared connection and understanding.”
Though it may be a bit late to try to write 50,000 words in a half of a month now, you could visit www.nanowrimo.org to learn more and possibly prepare yourself for next year.