A Write to the Finish: NaNoWriMo and the Better Life

The universe converged during this WriMo’s 2014 win moment. This year’s NaNo wasn’t about just surviving – 2014 was about thriving. Love and the spirit of this annual worldwide novel-ing November made it all possible.

This one’s for the WriMos, no matter what color your bar is.

The NaNoWriMoment

If you want to remember something as faithfully as possible, record it. Writing, audio, video – whatever it takes to keep your brain from altering events while you sleep. So I’ll kick off the post with a record of the unlikely end to my NaNoWriMo 2014.

Friday, 28 November 2014

It didn’t happen in a café. It happened in the lounge of a coffee roasting plant that was running full tilt.

Jax, a Filipino girl who grew up in the United States, sat next to Inkz, a South African girl who grew up in the Philippines. Crumbs of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie (that Inkz had made from scratch with no dairy), a half-eaten canister of sour cream n’ onion Pringles, and soda cans littered the table. There were no other beings around, save for Inkz’s Mac and Jax’s Asus.

At their three-person Write-In a few days before, they had promised each other that they would write up a storm on Friday, November 28th and validate their novels together. Never mind that they were thousands of words behind their respective goals. And never mind that it was Inkz’s first NaNoWriMo.

Both of them were drowning in day job writing and firefighting. But both of them wanted to finish all of their scenes.

Both of them wanted to win.

They had just careened towards “The End” to the tune of a 1982 Survivor hit after four hours and fifteen minutes of stopping, starting and – for Jax – slogging through a muck of awful prose.

At 6:15 in the evening, the word count Holy Grail and “The End” shone on screen in glittering glory.

Inkz turned to Jax. “Let’s do dis,” she said.

So they did. The Mac and The Asus scooted over to sit side by side.The girls made their respective ways to www.nanowrimo.org, clicked on “I am ready to validate my novel”, and dumped all their words in.

Ready to validate!
Ready to validate!

Inkz did the countdown. “Three,” she said. “Two. One.” Click.

And BOOM! There was the winner screen, loading line by line. It had loaded about this much

When suddenly...
When suddenly…

when the front door burst open and in walked Inkz’s Mother and Father, who had just arrived to pick her up. In the same second, the side door swung open and in came Jax’s Mother from the office. Jax was fully convinced that her Father was right there with them, laughing and smiling, just Mother and Father Inkz and Mother Jax were. Because their daughters – both injured or ill and working full time – had just

finished writing a novel of more than 50,000 words. In 28 days.

Jax’s Mother, who hadn’t understood the magnitude of this achievement before, beamed at her daughter and said “congratulations”. And then she hugged her Jax.

High-fives and more hugs circulated with abundance. Then they took pictures. Lots of them.

Better Lives

If only I had some sort of recording device in my retina. Our parents’ timing was impeccable. The Write-In had been meant to end at 6 pm. My Mother was busy doing things around the office and house. That all three of them walked in at the same time – at the exact moment they did – was incredible.

I will probably forget what music was playing or what people wore [Oh wait! We have a picture], but I will never forget what it was like to win under such spectacular conditions:

by the side of an inspiring friend and in the company of our loving parents,

who through the grace of God made us and our writing possible.

Here’s the thing, though: Inkz and I only met on the 9th of November 2014. Yup. We’d only seen each other two other times before – during the previous small-scale somewhat-failed Write-Ins in our region. We had been the only two Wrimos at the table; the only two Pinoywrimos in our town.

We would not have known each other but for a post in the Pinoywrimo Facebook group. In the first week of November, Inkz had asked if there would be a Write-In in south of Manila. I organized one and she showed up. The serendipity of our Facebook meeting and The NaNoWriMoment was a mystery, and the rest, as they say…

So what about my life is better?

  • Last year wasn’t an aberration. I now know I can write about 50,000 words in 28 days, even with a blog and three very different part-time jobs that equal two jobs. You can see that in my graph:
Weekend writer, clearly.
Flat on weekdays when the work started getting work-y. (Click to enlarge.)
  • My Mother finally gets it! I can feel it. And I know that Father is proud of her.
  • I have a new friend – who loves writing, pens and football (soccer), too. She lives in my home town. Even when I move away again later this month, we’ll still have each other, and I’ll look forward to writing with her every time I come home.

The Spirit of NaNoWriMo

That last point illustrates the heart of NaNoWriMo. The love and support we get from significant others, family and friends gets a special boost when we embark upon this mad November adventure.

Inkz and I faced this quest together. We broke through writer’s blocks, alternated sugary and savory snacks, fueled ourselves with endless coffee and challenged each other to write more words. To set goals higher than we thought possible and then to achieve them.

But it wasn’t just the two of us. That same energy flowed from other Pinoywrimos at official Write-Ins, the constant stream of encouragement on the Facebook and NaNo threads, and NaNo pep talks from awesome authors and our Municipal Liaisons, Purpleyana and Flatlander. (Flatlander, your pep talk last week was ‘zactly what I needed!) Love flowed from the Viking-helmeted folks at NaNoWriMo. Writing doesn’t have to be an individual sport – it can be about community. Whether you choose to talk to each other or not, the community is there.

It gets better. This event is the ultimate boundary-breaker. I was a Swiss Wrimo a few years ago; now I’m a Pinoywrimo. Next year, who knows? At the end of the day, a WriMo is a WriMo. Add whatever adjective you like.

Break-neck-speed-writing doesn’t care how old you are, who you are, where you’re from, what you did – as long as you’re writing.

To the WriMos who are done, like fellow Pinoywrimos and everyone in GMT+8: A universe-sized


for even doing this at all. And a big Win Dance to the ones who took 50,000 and wiped it all over the ground! Farzy Mae, Noelius… And Hackerella and Inkz, who got done and won – early! – on the first try.

To the West of us WriMos still plugging away:

You’ve got all the minutes you need get to the Purple Bar.

You got this.

Jnno, Dear Friend who is responsible for all of this madness in me – this means you too!

No matter where you are, West of us WriMos, I know you’re not reading this because you’re writing. And you’re telling me something Inkz told me a few days ago:

Let me drink my coffee and write my words.

To the win screen and beyond…

2 thoughts on “A Write to the Finish: NaNoWriMo and the Better Life

    1. December is supposed to be editing month, but it’s getting eaten up by other things! Just took a week to cool off and now should get on to putting this year and last year’s manuscript together then stripping it of deadweight 😛

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