I posted the following yesterday to the OLL blog. I’m not going to link it because things got a little out of hand when it came to copying and pasting my missive from MSWord to the blog and it copied twice and placed an ‘enter/return’ after just about every paragraph. I have no doubt posters who followed were wondering who the dingle was that took up all the space. With a sigh, I raise my hand. Yep, I’m the asshole who obviously was trying to get the most attention. In my own defense, there was no edit or delete option I could find. Anyway, since “Post NaNo Blues,” I’ve been thinking while listening to Jim Dale’s superb voice-acting on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the way to work, trying to fit my big-boy suit on and get back in the writing saddle. Yes, I’m still somewhat bummed, but it’s time to get it under control and look at the ‘good-stuff’ I happened across while doing-the-NaNo (sound like a new dance) and in retrospect there was a lot. Not the least of which was a greater appreciation of being a storyteller amongst storytellers.

Storytelling can be such a lonely business in modern society. The lone writer pounds or scribbles out his or her story in silence and privacy without any grantees the tale will see the light of day or ever be read or heard by anyone other than themselves. Writing can sometimes feel like a life-sentence more than a life’s vocation. The appreciative, receptive and immediate community that responded to the Irish seanchaí or the Indian vyas does not, for the most part, exist for the modern writer, but we ache for it nonetheless–something in our storytelling DNA remembers the aboriginal fires and dramatic shadows dancing across cold cave walls.

Though I played with the idea of participating in the NaNoWriMo for sometime, even lurked a bit on site during the ‘off season,’ I could never work up the wherewithal to tackle it. I constantly made excuses: too much work, too much family, too many outside obligations. After a summer of what I call, “writing like a man on fire,” in which I made 50k targets on a couple of NaNoWriMo-wannabe-clone-sites, I decided this year would be different; this year I would take on the NaNoWriMo and regardless of where I ended up, I’d get there fighting the good fight. Well, I did and I made it and battered, bruised and wheezing I arrived at the winners’ circle.

More important to me than making the target however, has been the discovery of an amazingly supportive and world wide community of storytellers and folk interested in seeing stories told. It has made the difference between my summer experiences and the NaNoWriMo as marked as night and day. The ease of site navigation made it conducive to poking about and exploring, something I would not have done had it been slow or disconnected. As it was I met some wonderful writing buddies, read amazing and funny posts, checked out my region and attended a write-in of four brave souls including myself. I enjoyed and appreciated the communication between staff and WriMo’s, the videos, blog posts and encouraging letters. It was so delightful and inspiring.

I was so impressed by the resources afforded by the program, so moved by the active participation of staff and WriMo’s, that I went so far as to set up a fund-raising page and campaign for sponsorships. You cannot know what a step and endorsement that was for me. I detest fund raising. I have very strong adverse feelings about it, but the sincerity and dedication of staff and the underlying theme and emphasis of the program was something that this crusty old English teacher could truly get behind and support.

The bottom line however, is that my first experience with the NaNoWriMo turned out as wonderful as it did because of the amazing sub-culture of support and acceptance built around and into it. It is a warm and welcoming, encouraging, entertaining and immediate community. Being a part of this whole thing has been a heady and invigorating experience, so much so that it’s almost depressing to have it come to an end. I walk away, however wistfully, inspired to keep writing, to keep on storytelling, armed with a new perspective of what is possible and with the knowledge that there are so, so many others like me out there aching to tell a story ,completely grateful to finally find a place, a warm crackling fire surrounded by glowing up turned faces, to begin telling our tales.

Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.