Monday 17 October 2011

When NaNoWriMo REALLY Starts by Rebekah Loper

There are magic little elves that make NaNoWriMo possible.  These elves are commonly known as the staff at the Office of Letters & Light (OLL) and, locally, they are are your Municipal Liaisons (ML).

"Okay," you say, "I've encountered these magical creatures in my NaNo experiences.  So?"

You've had a rare experience!  The staff and ML's are already working hard to create your magical NaNo experience to enable you to cross the finish line at the end of the month.

Your ML deals with a slightly different side of things - they must implement the ideals of National Novel Writing Month at local events, and sometimes deal with unsavory characters.  They must be able to answer questions - silly and serious ones.  Most of all, they must be encouraging.

And they have to write a novel on top of that all!

I am a NaNoWriMo ML for the Oklahoma::Tulsa region.  I am very blessed to have a partner-in-crime, The Barenaked Critic as a co-ML. This is the second year that Critic and I are serving as ML's.  We will probably never give this up!

Being an ML makes NaNoWriMo a completely new experience each year.  Last year, Critic and I didn't find out if we had been approved as ML's until October!  That meant we had very little time to figure out what we were doing. We did pretty good for the last minute planning.  Our previous ML had left us with a lot of good advice and ideas, and so we had a good foundation to launch from.

Then we started talking with other ML's, and were bitten with the planning bug!  Problem was that we had no time to get it all done before Nov 1st, so we kept a running list between the two of us of everything we wanted to do next year.  It grew a lot.

For Critic and I, NaNo started in March/April this year.  Much of it was just talking, but because we had ideas in mind early, we were able to network locally. Most of our events will be held at free venues this year - this means that more college students and parents on tight budgets will be able to come to our events, because they won't have to buy coffee or food to be able to use the Internet.

As of this week, we have all our venues confirmed, and we'll be able to let people know early about when and where each write-in is going to be.  We're also hoping to ramp up our fundraising this year, but we'll see how that goes!

This is just a mere glimpse of the work that goes into creating the magic of NaNoWriMo.  You know what, though? It's even more magical for us ML's.  Somehow, the act of creating the magic makes it even more real to us.  Sure, not every event goes perfectly.  One write-in last year ended up being just us two ML's.  We got a lot of writing done that night!

We're exhausted by the end of it.  But somehow that makes watching word counts hit 50k even more satisfactory.  Our region isn't eventhat large - only a few hundred or so, with only a small percentage of that actually showing up to events.  Some regions have thousands.

And if you think NaNo is about hitting 50k when you're an ML, it's not.

It's about the people that tell you they would never have made it this year without your encouragement. Especially the people who have never done NaNo before.

So this year, whether you're participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time ever, or you're a seasoned veteran, don't forget your ML, and the fact that they've been working on and thinking about NaNo since the last one ended.

ML Appreciation Day is November 22nd.  Take a moment to hank your ML that day for all the hard work they've done, and will still do, to make NaNo magical.  You would be surprised how many participants can say terrible things, and every 'thank you' makes that sting a little less.  A card is great, too, gift cards for coffee even better!  A 'thank you' is simply wonderful!

Rebekah has been writing and telling stories since she was a young child, but never seriously considered it as a career until after high school.  Rebekah is a Christian, but not an exclusively Christian writer.  Her writing sometimes has religious undertones, but her goal is to reach those who would never venture into Christian fiction. Her writing experience includes being a NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, some freelance work, and blogging at Black and Dark Night. She's also known as Taethowen on the NaNo Forums.


  1. What a great behind the scenes look at the world of NaNo! I do indeed say thank you, and I will say it again on November 22.

  2. Glad you enjoyed it! Most importantly, say it to your own ML :)