We talk a lot about the ways NaNoWriMo changes your writing. We don’t talk quite as much about the ways NaNoWriMo changes your life.
This week, the Office of Letters and Light and NaNoWriMo are in the running for the Chase Community Giving contest, an annual event in which nonprofit organizations can win a share of a five million dollar prize. The top vote-getter receives $250,000, an amount of money that would have a profound impact on an organization as small as ours.
We’ve heard from awesome and passionate writers who tell us they want to support NaNoWriMo but don’t have the funds to do it quite yet. We love you for that. We need you now.
We’ve talked in a lot of places about what the money would do for us. I want to talk about why NaNoWriMo matters to me beyond what it does for my writing.
When I started participating in NaNoWriMo, back in 2002, I was in my last year of my university degree in English and I was struggling. I felt like I didn’t really know where my life was going, which is obviously a ridiculously common feeling for people staring down graduation armed only with a liberal arts degree. But it was hard on me, and I was feeling adrift in life. My grades were slipping, my attendance was appalling, and my future was starting to feel a little bit bleak. I wrote as much as I needed to in order to barely skate by in my writing classes, but I’d forgotten that I used to write for the sheer joy of it.
And then I found out about NaNoWriMo.
My novel that year was pretty lousy, even by NaNoWriMo standards. But it wasn’t the story that changed me. It was the rediscovery of the joy I could find in something I was creating, the reminder that even when the real world felt a little bleak, there was always magic waiting for me in my imagination.
Over the next several years, as I tried to figure out what I was doing with my life, NaNoWriMo was my constant. It gave me something to look forward to during one of the darkest months of the year, and its community gave me a place to belong at a time in my life when everything else felt a little bit overwhelming.
It’s changed my life in so many other ways, but it’s that sense of belonging that has probably meant the most to me. And it’s a story I hear from so many other people. What NaNoWriMo has meant to them. How it’s been a safe space, a port in a storm, a community in the truest sense of the world.
We want to help people write novels and rediscover their creative impulses. But we also want to help creative people find a place where they belong.
Your vote for NaNoWriMo and OLL not only helps us win more money, but it shows the world the power of a community that begins in the virtual world and expands into the real world. It’s that combined power of the virtual and the physical that makes NaNoWriMo so magical, and we’re rallying our incredible, indispensable and unfailing community to get out the vote.
Reblog this on Tumblr. Post about it on your Facebook wall. Tweet it to the world. Help us spread the word about NaNoWriMo and what it’s meant to you. We want to hear how NaNoWriMo has changed your life, and if it has, we hope it’s worth a vote.