Is it November 1 already? Holy cow.
This is my 11th NaNoWriMo, and I feel as excited today as I did for my first NaNo back in 1999. One of the reasons for my giddiness is that we recently moved the NaNoWriMo and Young Writers Program sites to a cutting-edge, virtual server set-up known as "cloud computing."
I have no idea what "cloud computing" is. Every time our Tech Manager Dan tries to explain it, I get a little more confused. From what I've been able to glean, NaNoWriMo's websites exist entirely in the imagination of an astronaut in Belarus, and we log into the sites through his forehead.
I just ran this by Dan and he said it wasn't technically accurate. But wherever our mysterious server cloud is located, it's been giving us great new insights into our participants. The cloud tells us which web browsers people are using, and how long Wrimos spend on each page of the site. It also has the telepathic, possibly illegal ability to tell us what our participants are thinking at all times.
This is why I'm writing you today.
Last night, the cloud mentioned that you were having some mixed feelings about the month ahead. Is this true? It said you were excited by the challenge, but worried that adding a 50,000-word novel to your to-do list for November may end up doing some bad things to your sanity. It also said that you were concerned that your novel might set new records for suckitude.
I apologize if the cloud was talking about another participant—its non-binary language skills are rudimentary at best. But just in case the cloud was talking about you, I wanted to reach out with a couple quick reassurances before we start writing.
1) Your novel will not be as bad as you fear. In fact, by November 30 you will have amassed tens of thousands of words of very solid prose. You will come up with things that make you laugh so hard you have to wipe off the keyboard afterwards, and passages so moving that you will cry as you write them. Your plot will unexpectedly give birth to fantastic subplots, characters will reveal surprising and juicy things about themselves, and you'll have some moments during NaNoWriMo that will rank among the most satisfying and happy-making of your life.
You will also, however, write some flagrantly nonsensical chapters, create pages and pages of dialogue that make you cry (in a bad way), and endure a few shameful days where the only thing keeping your word-count afloat is the fact that your protagonist has a habit of reading the dictionary aloud whenever she gets nervous. And she's always nervous.
This is totally fine. All the books we've loved started out in a similarly imperfect form. They're called rough drafts for a reason. No one gets a novel totally right on the first pass. This is true whether you give yourself a month or a lifetime to write the first draft. There's an adage in noveling that you can revise a bad first draft into a great book. But you can't revise a blank page into anything but a blank page. Take this to heart during NaNoWriMo. In November, all words are good words.
2) You deserve some fun. We get so focused on doing the things that pay the bills that we sometimes neglect to do the things that make us feel truly alive. You have a world of people depending on you—family, friends, co-workers, bosses, teachers. Taking care of everyone's needs while still finding time to buy groceries and bathe every couple days can be a feat. Unfortunately, this means that activities like writing and art and music tend to disappear into the margins of our lives.
Think of November as an all-expenses-paid, 30-day vacation to novel-land. It's a place where you can whoop and holler and dance the crazy dance. A place where you can conjure new worlds, dream oversized dreams, and explore the wilds of your imagination. For one month, you get to orient your life around your creative spark, rather than vice versa.
Which brings us back to November 1. Today, over 100,000 people are heading out to find that spark. It's going to be a great, unforgettable month. The cloud wishes you well! And all of us here on staff wish you well, too.
The world needs your new novel, author.
It's time to go get it written.