For 7 years now, I have dedicated my Novembers to pounding out novel after novel, fighting against the odds to prove that I CAN do anything I set my mind to. And for nearly as long, other Wrimos across the country have gathered in San Francisco for one night of that month to experience this challenge together, with food, drink, and merriment.
When I started NaNoWriMo, I was in college. So not only was I writing an obscene amount of words in a month, I was doing it amidst homework! Amidst tests and class periods and my part time job! And each year I thought, “Maybe I’ll make it down to San Francisco this year,” but each year threw new obstacles in my way, and traveling for the sake of writing never fit into my crazy schedule.
But on this, my eighth year of reckless novel abandon, my friend and writing cohort Liz and I decided THIS. This was our year.
I have many blog posts already about the road trip, so for this, let’s focus on the event itself. This is also my very first bucket list post! If you want to see the other things on my (still growing) bucket list, you can check that out here.
Anyway, Liz and I got dressed up (the theme was Noir) and arrived at the ballroom via Lyft. Let me just tell you, this ballroom was gorgeous. It was located in the Merchant Exchange building right in the middle of the city, and the view was fabulous. There were tables everywhere, a little podium up front for speakers, and raffle prizes along the wall.
The open bar had fun novelty drinks such as the Noveltini, Cosmonovelton and GimLit. The Noveltini was my favorite. There was also a candy bar, where writers could refill a little white bag with enough sugar as they would need to get them through the write-a-thon. Dinner was fabulous and consisted of too many delicious things for me to even remember, and of course, throughout the night, they also served us donut holes and had a late night milk & cookie bar. The food was by far one of the best parts of the evening.
As far as activities went, sometimes it felt like there was almost too much to do! There was food to eat (as I mentioned), writers to mingle with, staff to meet, booze to drink, and a professional “author portrait” studio set up in back. Anyone attending the gala could get their photo snapped for use on our NaNo author pages, potential book jackets someday, who knows! That was a lot of fun. There were also timed writing sprints over the course of the night, as well as table wars, which encouraged the different tables of writers to get as many words written as they could so as not to let down your other table mates. It was a good motivator.
Let me talk about the tables for a second. It was a beautiful sight. The people running this event clearly know what they’re doing, as every single table in that ballroom had a powerstrip beneath it for attendees to plug their laptops into. Just try and imagine a gorgeous banquet room filled with people dressed to the nines with their laptops in a circle around their fancy tables. It was a sight to behold; especially when laptops were favored over other items and no one knew where to put their plates, wine glasses or candy bags. It was a juggling act, but made for great conversation. And, as far as I know, nothing was spilled on anyone’s computer.
After the food, another big highlight for me was getting to finally meet the people behind NaNoWriMo. This event has literally helped shape the last eight years of my life, and so much of that time was spent alone in my room, fingers poised above a laptop. Getting to not only meet and hug the people who created this crazy project, but to be in a room of 250 others who so completely understand what this project means to me was overwhelming. I might have gotten a little emotional.
I first met Shelby Gibbs and Tim Kim back at LeakyCon this summer, and they are the ones who convinced Liz and I to make the trip to San Francisco for the event. It was so lovely to see them again, and to get to meet Chris Angotti, the Director of Programs, Grant Faulkner, the Executive Director, Tavia Stewart-Streit, the Deputy Director, and so many others! And everyone knew who I was! Writing that NaNoWriMo song was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I had a lot of people come up to me and tell me they listen to it every year to get pumped to start writing. That meant more than anyone could ever imagine.
I also got to announce the second table war, as well as saying who won when it was over. I had a blast, especially because it meant I got the microphone for a small amount of time. Of course I used that opportunity to ask for a show of hands for who pronounces it my way, “na-no-wree-mo”. I lost, overwhelmingly, but hey! There were at least twenty or so people who raised their hands!
Getting to attend this event was something Liz and I have only ever dreamed of doing. We both managed to write about 2,500 words over the course the evening, made friends with our tablemates, stuffed ourselves with food and drink and went home exhausted but so, so happy. The crazy long road trip we took to get there was completely worth it. I am extremely happy with my very first bucket list item, and if everything on that list is as fun as this first one, then I highly look forward to starting to cross them off over the rest of my life.
There’s still 8 days left of NaNoWriMo! Who’s still in? How much would you like to be able to attend an event like this, dedicated solely to writing and to raising money to help empower others to write books? It was a dream come true, for me. Thanks for reading, and hopefully my next bucket list item won’t be too far off.