As National Novel Writing Month participants everywhere know, NaNoWriMo begins less than a week from today–five days from the time this will be read by anyone besides myself. Some will argue four, but that’s just a different way of counting, sort of like the story of the mathematician who began counting with zero instead of one.
Besides celebrating the recent discovery of a plot for this crazy noveling challenge, I’ve been taking in the community and noticing how the dynamic has changed yet stayed the same since I joined in 2002. Obviously, there are a lot more people now than there were years ago. When I was new, I was one of the younger people on the forums. In fact, I remember bemoaning all my high school activities and wondering if anyone would know what I was talking about. (A few people did, actually, but of course, most people were adults.) Now there are more young people coming in, and suddenly I feel old. I shouldn’t feel old in the 20s forum when there’s a teens forum right above me (something that didn’t exist when I was new)! That’s just not allowed. Seeing all these young NaNoers–especially college freshmen–complain about how hard NaNo and school will be prompts me to reply and give myself as an example. You will survive. You will thrive. You will finish. We’ll ignore the fact that I finished NaNo with five and a half hours to go on my first year and wrote half the novel in five days.
From experience, I had a lot more spare time in college than I did in high school. High school really is a job just from the time it takes out of your day. Sure, college is as well from the studying and paper-writing and problem sets (and trust me, I had both–that’s the price I paid for being well-rounded), but you can be much more flexible with your time. Besides, one day these young NaNoers will be old NaNoers like me and wonder why the young NaNoers of the future are complaining about their oh-so-busy schedules. It’s the circle of NaNo. It’s beautiful.