Doing Camp NaNoWriMo. For real this time.

NaNoWriMo and I… we’re like two acquaintances who always notice each other on the same train and awkwardly exchange glances, hovering between pretending we don’t recognise each other, and saying hi. Recognising each other would probably mean obligatory awkward conversation between two almost-strangers. Not recognising each other is awkward anyway, but it saves the talking. For years NaNo has smiled shyly (or is it slyly?) at me from across the carriage. Oh, it recognises me alright. But it waits; it waits for me to make the first move.

It knew I was scared of it.

Let me make totally legitimate excuses for myself, before I tear them all down and give my train self a good “Gosh, just woMANly it up and get over there!” throttling.

National Novel Writing Month traditionally chose November to be the month (I almost wrote Novelber…). That’s cool. I was born in November; it’s my favourite month. Only I live in Australia, down under. I’m nearly always in exam period when NaNo comes around, and even if I’m not I’m never quite prepared enough in October to tackle the monster head on. I’ve never done NaNo properly. I’ve never felt that rush or exhilaration of dashing madly for 1,667 words a day. To be honest, I don’t think I ever tried.

Then came Camp. And guess what?

It’s in July.

I just finished my final exam today.

I’ve got nearly six weeks of winter break.

I have a 5-book series idea that I’ve spent a year building brick by brick.

That’s right – it’s time to cross that carriage and chat up a relationship my boyfriend can be jealous of.

Camp feels a lot less intimidating because you can set your own writing goals, instead of standing in that mountainous 50,000 shadow from the outstart. You can count on me to wimp out. Instead, I’ve sold my soul to the devil for 1,000 words a day. That’s 31,000 words by the end of July. This feels a bit weird because I’m so used to NaNo as “30 days and nights of literary abandon”… July does have 31 days, right? Or are my knuckles a lie?

I used to write 10k of fanfiction in a school week. Then life happened. So this holidays, I’m slamming the door in life’s face. No matter what I’m doing that day, I’m giving myself a curfew to go home and write. I don’t think my boyfriend knows what he’s encouraging me to do. Sorry honey. Work calls.

I’m starting my novel from scratch – right from chapter 1. My previous attempts got me up to chapter 4 before I sighed and admitted it wasn’t working. Back to the drawing board. Scrivener got a workout, mindmapping happened, and so did this blog. I stepped into the writing community. And it’s pretty awesome.

Typing ‘writing’ into the wordpress reader and seeing so many aspiring writers out there with their own frustrations and joys is like tumbling through a certain wardrobe. I’d comment on fellow writers’ posts, cheer them on, whinge with them, and quite often just say ditto (in a more verbose way). Somewhere in between, it made me realise something.

“Dudette,” I said to the mirror, “You get so happy for other writers because you pretend you’re living through them. Let’s face it – you’re scared to bring your own story to life. You’ve been sheltered by the conveniences of fanfiction; original stories are hard for you. But until you do it, you’re just writing empty excuses for yourself in other people’s comment boxes. Can you really tell them to ‘write on’ when you’re not even next to them on the battlefield?”

My defensive reflection hid a wince. It knows I’m right. “And?” it asked flatly. It looked me in the eye and for just a second, I think I saw the naive writer we used to be. We’d written terribly and eventually we learned to write not-so-terribly. It was fun. At that moment I realised that my reflection was the writer inside me – it was that naive writer with simple desires. It still was; it had just grown up. Alone, neither of us can become that young happy writer again, and now I’m trying to remember when we even separated into two. But it’s about time we made up our differences.

My reflection crossed its arms like a final threshold. Stubborn. I liked that. We used to be good at it. “And?” it repeated with a glint of challenge. “What do you want to do about it?”

I stared back for a while, thinking. Then I grinned. My reflection blinked slowly. Finally, it began to smirk. It knew. We wanted to be stubborn again, naive again; young again. We wanted to do something that made us feel amazed by ourselves, all over again.

I crossed my arms as well. Now we looked exactly the same. Just like old times.

“Do NaNoWriMo,” I said. “For real this time.”


20 thoughts on “Doing Camp NaNoWriMo. For real this time.

  1. Right now, for me, it’s just like a little private NaNoWriMo. I’m up in SHetland with nothing to do, and I’ve already written fifty two (including back cover!) pages on Volume II of my modern fantasy. That’s a fifth of Volume I!!! Maybe I accidentally got the NaNoWriMo bug anyway?!!?

  2. Hooray! And yes, 31 days, your knuckles do not lie.

    July starts soon for you. Get pumped and rock it out! It’s gonna be great!

  3. Pingback: Camp NaNoWriMo, Here We Go Again!! | jbduffey

  4. Pingback: Nominated for the Liebster Blog Award! Yikes! | Plotting Bunnies

    • Thank you! I sure hope I have! It’ll be a much more enjoyable train ride if more of us are camping it out together. Let me know if you’re giving it a shot. I’ll do some cyber cheerleading for you ;)

  5. Yay!! Do it! I did Camp NaNo in April and it was great. I gave myself a goal of 17,500 (the starting length of a novella) and ended with just over 21,000. In the draft. I plan on getting back to it for editing during July but will probably do my own camp-like lurking rather than signing up.

    • Congrats on winning Camp! That’s an achievement to be proud of :) Great to hear that you’re still writing. Best thing about NaNo is that even if you don’t do it, it doesn’t hurt to get into the spirit. I’ll be rooting for you!

  6. Girl, I am with you. I heard of NaNo and said ‘I CAN DO THIS!’ I told friends I had the perfect idea and that I would have a book by the end of the month.

    I wimped out. I slept for 12 hours a day. I played way too many video games. No words met paper.

    Thank you for sharing Camp NaNoWriMo, this is going to be big for me. I am excited, I am looking at the site now!



    • Oh yeah, hearing you loud and clear, buddy. I’m so ashamed that I never actually gave NaNo a proper shot. This time, it’s for real ;)

      I’m excited for you too! Dig into it! I’ll pop over every now and then to cheer you on! :D

  7. I tried NaNo last Nov and failed miserably. Writer’s block to the extreme! But you have now inspired (guilted) me into signing up for the Camp. I’ll look for you on the train. Best of luck!!

    • Success! Hahaha, hop on, fellow Camper! I’m so happy you’re giving it another go. Let’s make it as far as we can. I’ll be the one sprawled across the seat with a battered laptop and mountain of snacks. All the best!!

    • Thank you! I’m really motivated now! I WILL get this story told!

      Thanks again! All the best with your own ventures! You can do it too! Coming from a stranger across the internet, you’re real and that is always enough to make you enough :D

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