National Novel Writing Month 2012

by Kayla Trail

I look forward to each November like the starting school year – with anticipation, excitement, and just a hint  of dread. For me, November means the start of the journey known as National Novel Writing Month(commonly known as NaNoWriMo) where I endeavor to write a novel in 30 days. This past November was my fourth year participating and my third win. But there are a few other reasons why this NaNoWriMo was very special.

1) NaNoWriMo on Balclutha

Last fall I found myself extremely lucky in getting one of the most fun and bizarre jobs I could dream of. I work on an outdoor education program on the historic ship Balclutha, all the while pretending to be a salty sailor in 1906. Yes, it is entirely as fun as it sounds. Some of the positions require us to stay overnight on the ship, which is a trip but a little problematic when you have to write 2,ooo words a day to stay on track. So what I started doing was writing in my bunk when night watch started. This was the perfect environment for my novel which, as it so happens, was a modern-day maritime young adult adventure! So twice a week, I would sit in the doctor’s bunk, half in costume and just feel the presence of the ship. The bunk was cold. I could feel the rolling of the ship as she heeled with the tide. By putting myself in much the same environment as my characters, it made it that much easier to write. And although I was dead tired and wanted nothing more to go to bed, I found myself much more productive on the nights aboard Balclutha than at home. (It probably helped that I didn’t have the internet to distract me…but that’s besides the point.)

2) The Night of Writing Dangerously

This year was also the first time I got to attend the  (fifth annual) Night of Writing Dangerously, a wonderful night of fundraising, sugar highs, and shenanigans galore.

I arrived early at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco to ensure I’d find parking. I followed the dapper folks into the elevator and stepped into the lobby. While waiting for the Ballroom to open, I got a “Noveltini” and mingled with my fellow wrimos who traveled from all over the country to come to the event.

Here’s my table, typing away diligently. Look at all these fine-looking dapper folks. We took part in the Table Word Wars but our hearts were not really in it, deciding that ultimately we were more of a Belgium than a Switzerland table.

There were so many things to do: fun people to talk to, author photos to take, finger foods and cookies and milk to indulge in, a prize table to examine, costumes to judge, and an ENTIRE candy bar to scarf down that I found little time for writing. During the course of the night, I wrote around three thousand words but I regret nothing.

And at the end of the night, I got a picture with the man himself, Chris Baty. I probably sounded like a blubbering idiot, saying ‘thank you’ about a thousand times but I meant each and every one.

The Night of Writing Dangerously was such a special event and I hope to be able to attend again next year.