That's right, tomorrow is that national holiday which centers around the crazy freakiness that emerges at midnight, all the goblins and memories and characters of past and present that will come out of the closet to celebrate NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH!!!!!!! At NaNoEve, I'll be with my fellow Wrimos in Java Break in Lawrence, where we'll be starting our novels, ready for the 50,000 word miracle that will follow.
I'm helping to lead our group in town in this brave month. And I have to ask myself, is writing a novel that will probably be terrible, that will never get published, that will be read by maybe five people if it's very fortunate, a good use of time? Is it useful to encourage other people to take time away from their families, jobs, volunteer opportunities, even from the Occupy movements, to do so?
One of my major qualifications for good actions, for positive involvement in the world, is "Would I do this action if the revolution had already come, either because it was necessary or because I wanted to do it?" If not, am I doing this action because it is necessary in a fallen world? If neither of those questions can be answered in the affirmative, I have to stop and think about the worthwhileness of the activity.
For me (and for my brave fellow writers), I can attest that should the revolution happen tomorrow, we would gather around in a newly liberated space, with our newly liberated time and lives, and start writing like there was no yesterday. We would want to tell stories, to shape worlds, to respond to the situations unfolding around us.
And even if we were so caught up in the moment (or, well, trying to get the counterrevolution started, as surely many writers would be) (or, also, trying to emphasize the illegitimate nature of the revolution that had just happened, and why we still needed to strive for the needed turn in the world and resist the quickly coalescing power structures, as many writers doubtless also would be) (or also just so smashed) that we no longer wanted to write novels, we would be using our honed communication skills to write broadsides and communiques and opinion pieces and deal with all the other emergency writing needs that would present themselves!
Beyond the fact that we the participants are seizing our own desires and making them happen in a way largely outside of consumer culture, NaNoWriMo is an inherently anarchist activity. It relies on networks instead of dictums; it is self-policed; it involves voluntary associations organized within a centralized organization for the benefit of all; it celebrates individual possibility while simultaneously emphasizing the value of community; it is open to all, with those who are able asked to contribute to the financial side of it; and it is a lot cheaper than Prozac, with fewer side effects.
NaNoWriMo helped me escape a moderately severe depression a couple of years ago, and allowed me to think of myself as a writer again. Many other people have reported similar effects.
So, I'm off to a life-enriching month of accomplishment and communal celebration! My novel concerns a phrenologist, c. 2075, investigating some mysterious deaths. Delia is my favorite character from my novel last year, so I'm going to revive her and give her more of a starring role. Check back for updates, although I probably won't be writing here as much due to the event :-) If you want to join me, please do look up the Lawrence, Kansas group on www.nanowrimo.org! I am the co-Municipal Liason. Happy Writing!