Back in March, I went to a book signing by Chris Baty, chief instigator of the infamous National Novel Writing Month. Chris is an entertaining and articulate speaker, but the most compelling part was that he seemed to be there less to sell his book than as part of a one-man crusade to incite people to have fun.
“Think of something you’ve always dreamed of doing,” he urged the audience,
“and spend a month doing that.”
NaNoWriMo seems to be just one instance of what he has in mind when he encourages everyone to try something new for thirty days, but it’s the one that has the greatest visibility and the most fanatical adherents. So much so that a small crowd had actually turned out to hear him talk in spite of the brutal weather (near-freezing temperature and horizontal sleet borne on a thirty-knot wind), including — coincidentally — my friend Jeff Y, someone who might actually have the necessary self-discipline to complete a 50,000-word novel in thirty days.
For my part, I have twice tried and twice given up after the first few thousand words. I don’t know that this year will be any different, but I have tried to recruit some of my friends and announced my intentions to anyone who cares to listen in the hope that collective pressure will force me to stay the course. One friend begged off, pleading plausible extenuating circumstances in the form of career upheavals. However, I have managed to conscript three other fellow victims.
At least I know how I’ll be spending my ‘spare’ time this month.