Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Just Call Me Whistleblower by Alivia Anders

(borrowed from: Just like That)

Take-out in front of the computer. 29-hour sessions involving twenty coffees and five brownies. Music so loud you can't hear anything. This is what a seasoned NaNo participant goes through every time the calendar turns to November 1st.

If you're any bit like me, the date on the calendar can be a little overwhelming, to say the least. Your friends think you go crazy (you lie and tell them you're taking the month to mourn the end of Halloween, again) your family feels neglected (so you add them to your stories so you can say you just talked to your Mom yesterday) and all sense of chores, exercise, and episodes of Grey's Anatomy go out the window (dusting the TV? What's a TV?)

But not every year for NaNo comes with the jiggery-pokery happiness of writing. I'd be lying if I said every year I did NaNo I finished early, went over my count, and came out looking like a normal person. Confession: The first year I did NaNo, I only got about 19k in. My second year was marginally better at 25k. Needless to say, I ripped out a lot of hair and lived on Coca-Cola to get that far. This was pre-writer days, where I lacked  drive, thought process, and overall sense of being. I'd like to think I've evolved a little bit since then.

This year I started my planning for NaNo around the beginning of September. My idea didn't really come in the form of a fortune cookie message, so to speak, but it did show itself to me in an unconventional way.

Imagine this: Girl tries on her favorite pair of jeans, only to see they don't fit. In fact, nothing does. Immediately she launches herself into a diet to shed the pounds, and eventually everything starts to fit again and life goes on. This is my typical yo-yo dieting idea, as I imagined was everyone's. But one day in search for a little inspiration to keep up towards my goal, I came across a website showcasing something called 'thinspiration.' A website that had hundreds of thousands of users, tons of girls and even boys posting starvation tactics and ways to stay strong to get to the point of 'pretty bones.'

The seed was planted.

It was in that moment, after hours and days and weeks of reading and backtracking these posts made by girls as young as nine, that I wanted to understand the workings of why a girl would think it's okay to starve yourself down to 70 pounds when you're healthy weight would be 120. It scared me to think that if I could find sites like this looking for healthy alternatives that anyone could find these and more like it with a few word changes in the search engine.

To me, the idea essentially spread through my mind like wildfire. What if someone followed this and fell down the slope, only to wonder how they got there in the end? Would they regret it or would they do it again? In finding something so dark, I found light within, and decided to write my NaNo project on a fictional girl in the vice of her own eating disorder. It's the first time I've ever touched something outside of my standard realm of vampires and fictional creatures with inhuman gifts, but I know it's the right thing to do.

I decided after choosing this topic to make sure it wouldn't go unheard or wasted. This year for me, it's not about winning NaNo like it's been before. Whether I win or not, the finished product of my story will be self-published with the intention to donate a proceed of each purchase to the beat, an ED foundation supporting recovering victims. To some, NaNo will be about writing bizarre things like flying pigs and talking water bottles. To me, it will be to shed light on an unmentionable topic.

Just call me the whistleblower, eagerly waiting for that calendar to change.

What are your plans for NaNo? Have you ever gone to strange places with your writing? Has a story ever made you feel both uncomfortable and eager?

Born in the middle of nowhere PA, Alivia Anders is frequently called different, insane, and a little creative. Inspired by just about anything, she began writing in 6th grade after joining a Harry Potter-inspired RPG forum. She says she loves salads, but really likes them only if they have taco meat on top. The oldest of five, she currently lives at home, enduring peak levels of insanity enough to drive a rhino to spontaneously combust. You can see her chit-chattering on twitter or plotting her evil plan at the NaNoWriMo site.

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