For several years now, I have reflected on my childhood with a fair degree of regret; it seems that I’ve lost the youthful spark and creativity which once drove me to daydreaming and jotting quick stories in care-worn old diaries. The hostile world has interjected into my dreams and tangents – and as a result, I have become jaded.
Associating this loss of innocence with growing up and becoming an adult is common practice in fictional literature. While children were thought of as mini-adults before the 17th century, Jean Jacques Rousseau is credited with portraying childhood as a period of sanctuary and purity before the struggles of adulthood (Childhood, Wikipedia). Consequently, we have many famous coming of age novels which bridge that sometimes rocky transition from dewy childhood/early adolescence to stultifying young adulthood (e.g. Lord of the Flies by William Golding; Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, etc.).
The reason that thoughts of childhood and novelish pursuits colour my blog post this morning is simply: NaNoWriMo. To those who know of this phenomenon, they will have no problem with the word. Others may struggle to comprehend that odd collection of letters. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and the month of choosing is November. This initiative has evolved – nay, exploded – over the years to include a dedicated focus on young writers, fundraising efforts for the educational cause, and a culture of enthusiastic writers sharing their experiences on the blog entitled “The Office of Letters and Light“. Wannabe authors taking part in the initiative record their word count for the month of November – in 2012 the final, cumulative number of words written was 3,318,913,223.
As you can probably guess, this is no small undertaking, with a substantial (and growing!) cult following (note that each person is encouraged to reach a 50,000 word count before 11:59:59 pm on November 30, local time – see this Wikipedia entry for more).
I have to confess that I have tried to participate in NaNoWriMo for the past several years. Each time, without success. In line with my stance as a jaded adult, I had a hard time justifying the number of hours required to reach the total word count of 50,000. Further, I worried obsessively that I didn’t have the creativity necessary to craft an engaging story. I felt that I took liberties with copying my plot lines, characters, and dialogue from my favourite novels. My internal critic was harsh and unrelenting.
But this year, with a little bit of imagination and a whole lot of take-that-world, I want to hunker down in front of the computer and release my inner writer. I will be setting myself a challenging writing goal, but I won’t accept any excuses this year; it’s time to procrastinate for a purpose!