Category: community

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NaNoWriMo wouldn’t be what it is without community. Writing is neat, but writing together is better. Here are some stories from around the community, a slice of life kaleidoscope of the people that engage in NaNoWriMo:

“I participated in write-ins for the first time in the TEN YEARS I had been doing it and finally realized why I was never making that word count,” Cassia tells us. “Community and friends and playing silly games and doing word springs helped so much with my creativity and my motivation.”

Angela overcame other challenges: “I remember going to the kick off party for my first Nano event and being super nervous about meeting strangers off the internet and what if no one showed up or talked and [insert string of non-sense anxiety]. Then I arrived at the venue and met my fellow writers. It was the first time that I have ever felt a sense of community when writing. I have made some of my firmest friends and fondest memories from that first Nano event.  Even 10 years later, that’s why I keep coming back, the welcoming and accepting community of fellow crazy people.”

Gabrielle Martin has a wonderful story about how NaNoWriMo (despite its name), crosses national boundaries. Their favorite memory: “Finding new friends in Taiwan. That group of people was so special and diverse – I really miss them now that I’m not in Taiwan anymore. I remember the first time I met them was at a write-in that one of them hosted in her home. She was an American who grew up in Africa and had been living in Taiwan for several years. I felt so comfortable in her house because it was such a perfect fusion of the three cultures. I didn’t feel like I had to change to fit into any one culture but could just be me.”

Lauren Wethers also shares a story about NaNoWriMo’s inclusivity: “I was 15, couldn’t drive, and didn’t have my own computer, so I begged my dad to let me borrow his laptop. A friend’s mom picked me up and drove the two of us to the Starbucks where we were meeting. We were the youngest ones there by far, but the other Wrimos were never condescending or unwelcoming.

“What stands out to me about finding the NaNoWriMo community as a teenager was realizing that authors were normal people. At the time, my mental picture of an author was some distant celebrity who wrote in a giant mansion and occasionally descended to sign books for the masses. (I clearly did not understand the realities of being a writer.) Twitter hadn’t really taken off yet and the only author blogs I knew about were the ones written by global superstars. Coming to write-ins – or, more accurately, borrowing my dad’s laptop and begging him to drive me to write-ins – helped me to see a different side of being an author. I didn’t have to be an impressive celebrity or live in a major city. I could just be me. All I had to do was write.”

Always remember: NaNoWriMo is for everyone. All you have to do is write, whether it’s with pen and paper, a laptop, a cobweb-y typewriter in your aging Victorian mansion, or—like Emmett Dupont and many other participants—using dictation software: “As a severely dyslexic kid, I always had stories running around my head but no way of getting them down on paper because I was almost completely illiterate. I started using dictation software around 2009, but firmly believed that because I was writing differently, I wasn’t really writing and therefore shouldn’t participate in creative writing projects.

“I found a community of other writers who also used dictation software on the NaNa forums in early 2010, and decided to participate that year even though I still didn’t consider myself to be a “real writer.”

“My favorite NaNo memory was reaching 50,000 that first year, watching that celebration graphic slowly pop up; “congratulations, writer!” I truly believe without the inspiration and confidence I gained from NaNoWriMo, I never would have applied to college, and now, I am a first generation college student with a degree in public health teaching high school, and I am lucky enough to be leading a writing circle of seven high school students who will all be participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year.”

And then there are people like Sujin Headrick, who founded Wikiwrimo, an extensive database of NaNoWriMo’s lingo, inside jokes, memes, and whatever else people might want to know about.

But even then, Sujin remind us: “It’s definitely about the people.”

And it really is. 

When I first sent out the call for interviews, I didn’t know how many people would respond. I hoped that it would be enough people for a few blog posts… Instead, we received over 1000 replies in the space of a couple weeks.

Seeing how much people care about NaNoWriMo, seeing how many people were eager to share not only the stories that they’re writing, but the stories that they’ve lived through was incredibly moving. So to everyone that submitted, a sincere thank you from everyone at NaNo HQ. It was a reminder of why we do what we do, and my only regret is that I couldn’t feature everyone that I talked to, let alone everyone that submitted.

As I think about the NaNoWriMo community, about all the energy and creativity that people pour into this ridiculous, wonderful program, as I think about the 20 years past, and the 20 years to come (and the 20 years more and the 20 years again after that), I keep circling back to Shakespeare. All I can say is:

“How beauteous Wrimos are! O brave new world,
that has such people in ’t!”

NaNoWriMo happens every year, but apparently sitting around and writing for a month just isn’t enough for some of our participants.

Suffice it to say: All sorts of zany events happen within the scope of NaNoWriMo. Next year, join in on some of them, or start some of your own! It’ll be wild fun, and the literary abandon of NaNoWriMo will never die.

Here are a few of the many stories I heard about the things Wrimos get up to in November:

Anekta Bonacorso shares one experience: “When I used to live in the Bay Area, every Halloween WriMos would meet at a local Denny’s in costume, and the minute the clock hit midnight we would all start our novels together, right there in the Denny’s. I looked forward to it every year. It was the best way to start a novel, in a room full of silly costumes, diner food, and camaraderie.”

Ene talks about how the Great Train Escape in California inspired them to do a similar event in Estonia: “Estonia is way smaller so we couldn’t travel for 12 hours but thought that little is better than nothing. The train we chose was between capital Tallinn and one of the bigger cities Pärnu.”

Another participant on the same trip also shared their recollections of the Estonian Train Escape: “We took the first class seats so that we would have enough room for all of our laptops. The train conductor was quite amused. We did multiple writing sprints and got to know each other. Some of us had never taken this train before so it was interesting to see the scenery as well. I remember talking to someone about my love towards manor houses (as there are so many of them in Estonia).

Once in Pärnu, we found a little cozy cafe. As Pärnu is the summer capital, by November the city is quite empty. It was quite cold on that day.

We thought about going to the famous pizza place for dinner, but it was so full that instead we went to the retro cafe.

The train ride back was a bit more challenging – people were getting tired but they still tried to push the word limit even higher. For some, it was the day with the biggest word count addition.”

Sabrina Zirakzadeh told us about an event that more or less seems to capture the spirit of NaNoWriMo:

It was the second year we’d decided to have a midnight kick-off party, and since my apartment was soundproofed, key entry, centrally located, and spacious, we decided to have it there for the second time. In 2007 we had about 40 writers RSVP and 15 show up, so when we got in 82 RSVP’s, I wasn’t too worried. My co-ML and I prepared our goody bags as usual, complained about what a waste the leftovers would be, got the place set up for the potluck, and waited.

Every single person who RSVP’d showed up. Some had friends in tow. We had over 90 people crammed into my one bedroom apartment.

Q:  I’m trying to picture it and all I can see is absolute chaos. How did you manage to fit everyone in?

A: Absolute chaos is about the right way to put it! I had a decent sized apartment but the bedroom area was totally obliterated by everyone’s bags and jackets (leaving was a challenge) so only the dining and living room areas were useable and it was literally wall-to-wall people. I had actual seats for 10 people, but most of the chairs got turned into laptop or drink/plate stands. There were three of us on the couch, two people squashed into a basket chair, and everyone else was on the floor pretty much right up against each other, with laptops (and a few notebooks, those were the smart people in restrospect!) in their laps ready to go.There was a little bit of room to move around, but it was tricky, you had to keep stepping over people. I think we only managed it because I had a big open floor plan all to myself, not a lot of furniture, and the toilet was only accessible via the bedroom so the door remained unblocked!

Q: Did it get insanely hot in that apartment? Just packed with people, most of them with laptops?

A: Luckily, Halloween in October is usually pretty cold in Colorado, and I had my thermostat on so it didn’t get too hot, but I did have to switch it to air conditioning once we hit about 40 people, and the windows got really fogged up! The biggest problem I think was noise; when everyone was talking, it was really hard to make ourselves and my three pet budgies were going nuts at all the noise so that didn’t help.

Q: Did everyone behave themselves?

A: Thankfully, almost everyone behaved themselves. My co-ML Michelle had been pretty good about keeping a firm hand on troublemakers since I came on, so most of the active members were already aware that we were volunteers doing this on our own time for everyone’s enjoyment and the complainers and people doing Nano just to show off how much better they were than others didn’t tend to come to many events. We did have a couple of people we were worried about because they were pretty demanding leading up to the kick-off, but once they showed up they were perfectly lovely and since none of us could really get to the potluck food to eat it anyway, we didn’t even have complaints about food or drink issues. I’ve rarely had a kick-off go that smoothly, especially one that big, it was amazing!

At about 11:30 I broke out my guitar and sang a song I’d written the previous November, “50,000 Words,” which was a songwriting assignment that I’d ended up writing about NaNoWriMo (there is a video of this exact moment floating around YouTube still!), and it felt so good to hear everyone laugh at the in-jokes and encourage me to keep going when I briefly forgot the words to my own song.

(You can support Sabrina on Amazon, Bandcamp, and Spotify. Proceeds from “50,000 Words” go to NaNoWriMo!)

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Writing is fun, creative, and enriches our lives in ways we never see coming. But you know what is even more fun, and more creative, and more enriching in ways that we never see coming? Writing with friends! In this post, NaNoWriMo participant Chelsea Brickner encourages people to join the NaNoWriMo community.

If you want to convince your friends to join you in our little corner of the wacky writing world, send this their way:

Hello WriMos! 

Are you ready to take the plunge but have some acquaintances who are still on the fence? I think the best way to convince them is to let them know that we are all connected in this literary abandon. Writing is known to be a mostly solo venture, but one of the greatest things about NaNoWriMo is the community! I want our network to keep growing and maybe one day writers will take over the world. It doesn’t hurt that there are several published authors who started their novels during November. 

Despite our phenomenal community, I feel that so many people are daunted by the challenge of taking on 50,000 words alone. Rightly so, I might add. It’s no picnic to get inside your own head for a month straight. Let’s help those who are still deciding by showing them all the support we get during the month of November. 

Headquarters for NaNo is an amazing source of inspiration, advice, and much laughter. From encouraging writing sprints, to books on writing, to video tips, they are such an awesome fountain of resources. They are all writers themselves and they make a point to connect with us every day! To me, no other network has an easier flow of communication. I cannot stress enough how helpful they are because they want you to succeed!

On the NaNo website you can join a Region based on where you live to meet fellow WriMos! This is such a huge bonus because you can arrange to meet in awesome coffee shops to confer and chat and just be writing nerds together. These are typically organized by MLs (Municipal Liaisons) who are outstanding people and sometimes award you with stickers and other goodies. Who doesn’t like more stickers? This is perhaps the best way to understand that all of us are facing this struggle. You. Are. Not. Alone.

Seeing these other writers in action can spark your own motivation, can show you new writing techniques, can put you at ease that your own word count is fantastic no matter the number! My last tidbit is to connect with writing buddies online so that you can keep each other accountable while you tackle the word monster. They can be friends you already know or someone across the country! The beauty of the internet!

Perhaps the best motivator is you. Encourage your sister, friend, neighbor, postman to try NaNoWriMo for themselves and for all the people they can meet along the way. Let’s start writing together.


This is the third year that Chelsea Brickner has participated in NaNoWriMo. She’s an avid reader, movie watcher, and has been writing since she was about 12. She enjoys writing fantasy but is trying to branch out more as she get older. She is the mother of 2 cats. Find her on Instagram @off.the.pages.90!

Top image licensed under creative commons from Alisdare Hickson on Flickr.

Today, we’re delighted to introduce you to our new Community Manager, Chanda Briggs! Chanda will be working with our ML team and Come Write In spaces to expand and deepen our resources and support, in addition to managing our customer service platform and taking pictures for our Instagram. Here’s a short note from Chanda:

Hi everyone! I’m excited to join the NaNoWriMo staff as the new Community Manager. I come to you humbly, with a long history of cafe management and community engagement within diverse communities. I am a proud UCLA alumnus with a major in Cultural Anthropology and a minor in Scandinavian Studies; a current graduate student in Syracuse University’s Library Sciences department; and, much to my surprise, a published author of a poem in a Swedish zine called Finger Pie.

As a NaNoWriMo participant, I understand first-hand what the challenges are for users and I look forward to partnering with volunteers on initiatives, acting as a resource and agent of support (and learning from your experience, as well!), and occasionally having nerdy conversations about coffee and all things Nordic.

Many authors think of writing as a solitary activity. But sometimes, it can be fun to collaborate with a partner! Today, author and editor Jarie Bolander shares how he dove into children’s fiction by collaborating with Reeva, his young co-writer (pictured above):

I was never an avid reader as a kid. My usual reading material consisted of Popular Science, old textbooks, and the occasional Mack Bolan series. Even to this day, I mostly read and write nonfiction.

My interest in fiction grew out of NaNoWriMo and StoryGrid. It’s been a fantastic adventure to do a deep dive into the fiction pool to see how story shapes our lives. The motivation to actually write a chapter book came from my girlfriend’s daughter, Reeva, who one day said “You write. Why not write a book for kids like me?” Thus started our adventure into writing The Magical Mystical Mirror.

For most of us, writing is a solo activity. We labor away at our keyboards spinning worlds and crafting tales that are interesting to us. It’s only when we’re done with the first draft that we might hand it off to an editor.

The process of writing with Reeva has given me some valuable insights that have made me a better writer. I would have never learned them if I had not opened my mind to different perspectives. 

1. Agree on the genre.

Genre can be tricky for a chapter book. Most of the ones Reeva reads are mysteries so we decided to go that route.

2. Decide on the theme.

Once we figured out we wanted to write a mystery, we had to figure out the theme. Reeva likes visiting aquariums because she loves animals. We wanted her love of animals to be part of the theme, which is:

The repercussions of the past come to life as a single mother of two seeks to save an endangered species by traveling back in time—The Magical Mystical Mirror.

3. Use a common language.

One of the challenges we faced was how to communicate about what we wanted to write. We needed to come up with a common language—which for us, was via examples of stories she was reading.

4. Get agreement, then stay focused.

Several times through our writing process, we would get distracted. This usually manifested itself in creating more characters or completely different plot lines. Thankfully, we would resolve this by simply committing to focusing on writing the idea we had. We could always change it later.

5. Write for your target audience.

I normally don’t write fiction, and the nonfiction I do write is usually targeted to the entrepreneur crowd. The Magical Mystical Mirror is a different audience that’s not going to understand subtly or nuance. What might seem obvious to me won’t for a 9-year-old. This was important since my job was to do most of the writing, and without Reeva telling me what she thought, the book would not hit the mark.

6. Bring the story to life.

As writers, it’s sometimes hard to picture a place or a scene in our heads, especially if you’re writing outside your comfort zone. That’s why we took two field trips to Monterey (where our story is set) to feel what it likes to walk the streets. This was not only inspiring but also made the experience fun for all of us.

Outside My Comfort Zone

Part of the reason that NaNoWriMo is such an enjoyable experience for me is the community that it creates. I would never have thought to write a chapter book, let alone with a writing partner. This experience has made me a better writer and made me want to write more stories outside my comfort zone—something we should all try and do.


Jarie Bolander is an engineer by training and an entrepreneur by nature. He has over 20 years of experience bring innovative products to market. He is a Certified Story Grid Editor who uses his training to help his companies tell better stories. He has published six books—8 Startup Dilemmas All Founders Will Face, The Entrepreneur Ethos, 7 PR Secrets All Founders Should Know, #Endurance Tweet, Frustration Free Technical Management, and Business Basics for Entrepreneurs. He’s on Twitter @TheDailyMBA.

We feel super lucky here at NaNo HQ to be able to work with some excellent interns! Today, meet Editorial Intern Nina Sacco, the newest addition to our team:

Hey, writers! I am so excited to be a NaNoWriMo Intern this spring! I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be part of a community that supports accessibility in literature. After all, we all have a story to tell. And where would we be if we didn’t learn how to listen to one another? 

I’m no Freud or anything, but I suspect my love of words and stories was first ignited as a small child. My mom always made time to read to us before bed. I loved listening to her voice paint moving pictures in my head. Honestly, “reality” has never made all that much sense to me. Growing up, I found more truth in works of fiction than I ever could in a high school history book. Which only drove me deeper into the Land of Make Believe. I’ve been scribbling in notebooks and/or on napkins ever since I learned my ABC’s. 

I’m a big fan of dogs, ponies, trees, the ocean, film noir, traveling, reading, and writing (obviously). When experiencing writer’s block while hacking away at my own first attempt at a novel, I have been known to retype my favorite novels—such as Ask the Dust, If Beale Street Could Talk, and Catcher in the Rye—word for word on my cherry red ‘63 Olivetti Lettera. Nerd Alert.

My hope is to learn as much as I can working with NanoWriMo this spring, and that ultimately I, too, will find the inspiration and dedication to become a NaNoWriMo winner this November!

If you have kids, you may be struggling with balancing your creative life with your responsibilities as a parent. Today, writer and mom Dr. Jennifer Harder shares how she’s managed to make creative writing time into a family activity:

A Holy Grail for many parents is that elusive activity you can do with your kids that you all equally enjoy. All too often, we settle for fun the kids can do while we adults look on, applaud, or otherwise support from the sidelines. We find activities that challenge our miniature selves but leave us adults stagnant. At the heart of childhood memories are shared experiences, and sometimes we adults get in a bad habit of not really sharing in the experience at all!

I learned of NaNoWriMo and its Young Writers Program in November 2017 when my son’s elementary school principal proposed it as a challenge to keep our then-second grader from getting himself into some boredom-based mischief. The idea came a bit out of the blue for me: You want my 7-year-old to write a what? In how long? I remember all of the ways that he and I struggled to subdue his inner editor, to unleash his creativity, and to learn to value the process of creating something that was utterly and completely his, all the while suppressing my urge to mom it up. It was hard.  

But then, seemingly out of nowhere, it was fun.

For one month, it became our daily time together. Not only did he finish his novel, he added extra chapters because he had “more story to tell”. NaNoWriMo stuck with both of us. In 2018, September rolled around and he asked if we were doing NaNoWriMo again. We. Writing had become an us thing. Less than a year from learning what NaNoWriMo even was, we started a NaNoWriMo writing club at his new school. I thought my hands were just about full enough when my son upped the ante.  

“Are you going to write one too, Mom? If I can do it, you can do it.” No more cheering from the sidelines, Mom, time to get in the game.

So on November 1st, we sat at our side-by-side computers, inner editors shoved into hidden boxes and word count goals blazoned on charts. We had just gotten underway when my 5-year-old daughter declared that she too had a story she wanted to tell. So, together, we wrote. We didn’t write alone, and we didn’t have to carve out time away from each other. We wrote as a family.  

If you have a story inside of you and think you can’t possibly take time away from your family to get it down on paper, make writing a family affair. Together, you’ll be amazed what you can create! Here are some tricks to help make NaNoWriMo your new family tradition:

1. Make the Process Fun. 

Cheer for each other when you hit a daily goal! Talk wild plot breaks at the dinner table, go run around the yard and brain storm word sprints, or get out your colored pencils and draw silly story twists. See the work as a game, and one you can all play together.

2. Set Really Hard Goals. 

Who knows, you may surprise yourself, or stretch yourself trying. It’s what NaNoWriMo is all about! Kids get to choose their own word count goals, so encourage yours to stretch themselves too. Adults enjoy 50,000 words no matter what so trust me, you’ll be stretched!

3. Let Your Kids See You Struggle to Achieve Something. 

Kids don’t always believe that things are hard for adults. Let them see that we struggle to achieve goals too, that things don’t come easily to us just because we’re older. Let them see you work hard, let them see you fall down, let them see you fail even. Then let them see you fight back and persevere. Let them cheer you on and celebrate achievements with you. It is one life lesson that is infinitely better to model than to preach.

4. Enjoy the Story.  

While children relish in the world of make believe, adults learn to shove it aside as impractical. Rediscover that childhood magic with your kids. Follow their lead. Free your mind for a while from the bonds of obligation, responsibility, and cursed practicality. Do something impractical together.  

5. It’s All About the Snacks.  

No, seriously, don’t be stingy with the snacks. The family that writes together snacks together. Cheese, crackers, and pepperoni. Apples with cheddar. Trail mix. Fuel the brain and the fingers. You won’t regret it.

As November 2018 came to a close, my son finished his story first, my daughter continued to add chapters to hers, all of the writing club kids hit their word goals, and I indeed won the year. I did something I’ve never done before, and didn’t even have to stop being a mom to do it. Next stop, a family trip to Camp NaNoWriMo this summer!


Dr. Jennifer Harder is the mom to one dragon afficionado and one fierce free spirit, the wife to a hockey aspirationalist, and the giver of treats and teacher of tricks to a pair of pups and one pup-like cat. She is the author of an untold number of unsung non-fictional works of art for her employer, and, proudly, of her first 2018 NaNoWriMo piece of pure fiction.  

Top photo by Juan Cruz Mountford on Unsplash.


Inspiration for this step taken from Tomehbell’s blog post: http://blog.nanowrimo.org/post/154469338120/how-to-ease-into-the-editing-process


Inspiration for this step taken from Elizabeth Kracht’s blog post: http://blog.nanowrimo.org/post/155628164776/6-ways-to-approach-your-edits-with-objectivity


Inspiration for this step taken from Derek Murphy’s blog post: http://blog.nanowrimo.org/post/156279050796/7-tips-to-help-you-self-edit-your-novel


For more about finding beta readers, check out Jody T. Morse’s post: http://blog.nanowrimo.org/post/155487218071/6-tips-for-finding-your-perfect-beta-readers

I Wrote a Novel… Now What? Your Revision and Editing Checklist

If you’ve completed a first draft of your novel, congratulations! However, after the hustle of getting that draft written, you may be wondering… what do you do with it now? This January and February, NaNoWriMo’s “Now What?” Months are here to help guide your novel through the revision, editing, and publishing process.

To start you off, we’ve taken some inspiration from previous blog posts to create this handy-dandy Revision and Editing Checklist. Don’t know where to start? Use this guide to help you navigate the tricky waters of novel revision!

Image background by rawpixel on Unsplash.

nanowrimo:

No one knows NaNoWriMo like the people who participate! We’re looking for Wrimos to contribute to our blog for some upcoming series. 

Interested? Just fill out this form, and we’ll get in touch! (Please note that we receive a high volume of interest in writing for the blog, and may not be able to respond to everyone. This is currently an unpaid opportunity.)

Are you a Municipal Liaison or Come Write In space coordinator? Fill out this form instead, we have a few specific questions we’d like to ask you!

Are you a Young Writers Program participant? Fill out this form instead so we can make sure that we attribute you correctly!

We’re looking for blog contributors again! We’re especially looking for some editing, revising, and publishing tips for our “I Wrote a Novel… Now What?” Months in January and February. Fill out the appropriate form for a chance to be featured on this blog!

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Earlier this year, parts of California were decimated by devastating fires. NaNoWriMo HQ is located in Berkeley, CA, so we’ve experienced some of the fallout from these disasters, and our hearts go out to those whose lives have been claimed or changed by the them. Today, writer Matt Forbes, one of the survivors of the Camp Fire that leveled Paradise, CA, shares how he’s using writing to help regain some hope in the aftermath of the fire:

There’s something to be said about the power of stories. Over 25,000 people in Paradise, CA and surrounding areas share a terrible story of loss. On the morning of 8 November 2018, the Camp Fire started in the valley behind the local hospital, and by that same night the entire town was engulfed in flames. Over the course of one day, their stories changed forever to one marred by a devastating loss. People ran from their homes with nothing and some still couldn’t escape.

I won’t reiterate statistics here, but you can look them up online if you’re in the mood for shock and depression. Still, many were unharmed—physically—by the fire, escaping with their lives and families. I’m one of those people, but I refuse to be defined by the ashes of my home or to let that be the fate of so many others without some kind of fight. But I am armed with naught but a pen. Here is my plan to challenge this disaster:

1. Purpose

I’m not anybody special, but everyone deserves to know it doesn’t take Someone Special to do something grand. I’m a writer through and through, so I asked myself, “What unique skill can I bring to fight this catastrophe?” The answer was obvious: I would write. But how can writing help the survivors—my friends, family, and townspeople? It would have to be something grand. Something wild.

2. Pledge

NaNoWriMo is big. If you’re a writer who’s participated in it, you might understand that all too well—the way it made you whole. So what can be bigger for an aspiring writer than 50,000 words in a month? Of course! 50,000 words a month for an entire year. That’s 600,000 words, which is about what it takes to read Harry Potter from book one to the middle of book five or the length of the Hunger Games trilogy from start to finish, twice. This is a Year of Writing Months. The kind of madness only writers, savants, and fire victims have the fortitude to endure. This is what I will do, and I invite anyone daring enough to join me to come along. The progress of this endeavor will be something you can follow for inspiration and support, as shown by the…

3. Plea

The point of this struggle is to draw awareness to the Camp Fire and its victims. Follow along at https://nanowrimo.org/forum_comments/8052319 to see the progress, talk about your own struggles, and find support from other victims and sympathizers. As the year goes by, I hope that others will find it to help themselves and others. Stories heal and stories rally. Relief efforts have already started rising up in the wake of the Camp Fire—opposition to its destruction—and a few can be found in the thread mentioned above. But aid comes in all shapes and sizes, not just donations. If you know someone affected by the fire, reach out to them. If you know a firefighter or first responder, thank them for their service and bravery. People need clothes, blankets, and housing, but they also need encouragement and love. Reach out, no matter how large or small a way you can.

The town of Paradise is gone. Homes are gone. Lives are gone. But people become strong when faced with adversity, and this story doesn’t have to be the last one we tell. Even if you don’t reach out to the Camp Fire victims, there are always others in need. As climates shift, disasters will continue to crop up around the globe, and only we—the people—have the power to save one another. A revolution can start with something as simple as a single story. Some say the pen is mightier than the sword. Today—and this year—I hope it will be mightier than the fire.


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Matt Forbes is a strong believer in the powers of friendship, courage, and storytelling as a means to overcome. He goes by his full name—Matt Forbes—and grew up playing D&D with friends that became lifelong. As a full-time DM of many years, storytelling turned into writing and became his passion. Finding NaNoWriMo in 2011, he started his journey figuring out how to challenge the struggle that ensues while following the strange and novel path of the writer. 

Top image licensed under Creative Commons from Pacific Southwest Region 5 on Flickr.