A friend just told me she’d finished her ballot to mail before she leaves the country for a vacation. But I never expected what she said next. “There was an uncontested, incumbent candidate I’m not too happy with, so I decided to write in your name!”
While I’m thrilled whenever I learn that someone has voted (Washington is a vote-by-mail only state), and I’ll be filling in the circles on my own ballot soon, I’m sticking with the names already printed there. Instead, I’m thinking about a different kind of write-in.
Last week, writing on the interisland ferry, I met another author from the San Juans, Orcas Islander Elizabeth Menozzi. Among other things, Elizabeth is an award-winning writer of science fiction and fantasy novels with romance.
And for the next month, she’ll be the Municipal Liaison for the San Juan Islands branch of the “WA Elsewhere” National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Region (seems we’re too small to register as anything but “elsewhere”).
Since its inception in 1999, NaNoWriMo participants begin on November 1, working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. A nonprofit since 2005, NaNoWriMo expects over 400,000 people to join what they describe as “one part writing boot camp, one part rollicking party.”
During the month, 975 Municipal Liaisons (MLs) like Elizabeth will coordinate local, in-person writing events (write-ins) at libraries, bookstores, and other community spaces. The MLs job is to provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds.
- It’s okay to not know what you’re doing.
- If you feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time, do it! But it’s also fine to just wing it.
- Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you’re not sure what that story might be right now.
- Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December and beyond. Think of November as an experiment in pure output.
- Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later.
- Every book you’ve ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft.
- Tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November.
- Seriously. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.
- There will be times you’ll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who completes NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out.
- Wherever you are on your writing journey, DON’T STOP.
Although I write creative nonfiction and can’t imagine writing a novel, I share the NaNoWriMo belief that everyone’s story matters. I also know how vital it is to feel support and encouragement from other writers, so I plan to join Elizabeth at a write-in on the interisland ferry (date to be determined). If you want to spend some time writing “elsewhere,” we’d love to have you along. You’ll find Elizabeth’s write-in calendar here.
Now that’s the kind of write-in for me!