“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” – Maya Angelou
In college I was an avid role-playing gamer. I loved the community of it, how a group of us would gather together once a week, for hours on end and -using on pencil, paper and our minds – create exciting new stories. What I loved most of all was my role in the games: I was the Storyteller. I created the world and the denizens that my friends would encounter and interact with; I created the narrative they existed within. They were my actors and I was both the writer and director, weaving stories for them, to amuse, to challenge and to (I like to imagine) broaden them as people. It was this directed and structured creation of worlds that got into my blood and has never gone away. However, those games were the luxury of the young and -when entered the workforce- I could no longer host the games. Yet, I never lost the desire to weave stories.
Somewhere between then and now though, I lost my way. My mind and soul kept tapping into unrealized worlds and narratives, fantastical and sometimes horrifying, but I betrayed myself; I never acted on those ideas, those dreams. Part of it was fear of failure and rejection; these are things that I’ve often found that temper my motivation to do things. Some of it has to do with the company I kept: a ‘loved one’ once came upon some of my neophyte writing and proclaimed that I was destined to fail. That criticism has stayed with me for years. Still, I kept a book of ideas -always adding to it- and promised myself with a liar’s breath that one day I’d do what my heart yearned to do. One day. That day has never come, not until now.
On November 1st, I’m going to participate in National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel between the 1st and 30th of November. That is roughly 1600 words a day. It is an ambitious and challenging goal and I’ll be joined by thousands of other aspiring writers. However, for me this is about more than just the challenge of the event. It’s about realizing a long-time dream.
For me, NaNoWriMo is the gauntlet I must conquer to unleash the potential I know I possess inside. For nearly twenty years, I’ve felt like I’ve failed to live up to the expectations that my collegiate self held. I wanted to be someone of purpose and significance and I failed myself, being simply mediocre (in my own mind). My first step back was falling in love with my wonderful wife, who I’ve always loved since I first met her so many years ago, but who only now do I now share my life and dreams with and who supports me without equivocation. She showed me that I had the resolve to seek out my dreams, so now I am.
I also ask for your support, your prayers, your encouragement and your inspiration in this task I will soon embark upon. This is not an easy task for a working adult by any estimation, but it is all the more difficult because I’m facing nearly twenty years of entrenched entropy and fear. Encourage or goad me, whatever works, but I invite you to share in my journey to become the man I need to be, the writer I long to be. The belief of others is a deep well to draw from for determination and courage.
However, this is not just about me. Thirty thousand other writers will also be participating, so share a prayer or good thought for them as well. More importantly, the Office of Letters and Light, the non-profit organization that hosts NaNoWriMo is also sponsoring a mirror event in five hundred communities and twenty-five hundred classrooms, encouraging literacy and fostering creativity in the youth of today. Currently an estimated 38% of fourth graders read at a level significantly below the most basic; only 31% read at a proficient level and only 7 at an advanced level. Make no mistake, NaNoWriMo is not a literacy program; It is a program that seeks to encourage young students to write and to show them that writing can be fun if also challenging. Today’s world is one filled with distractions. Too many children are raised by video games and television; too few parents teach by example: by reading to their children, sharing with them the wonder and amazement of the written word. NaNoWriMo seeks to do that. It is a cause worth supporting.
So I ask you -friends, family, co-workers and casual observers- to not only support me with your hearts and wishes, but to sponsor me in my writing. All donations will go towards the Office of Letters and Light and their mission to share the odyssey of the written word with children. Your donations will also encourage me on my own journey, to add an extra incentive to fulfill my own dreams as well as the expectations of my loved ones and peers. If you are interested in donating, click here. You can track both my writing progress and my sponsorship goals on the right-hand side of my blog. Knowing that you are willing to donate as a sign of faith in my goals would be a incredible motivator.
No matter what you do, I thank you for the time you’ve spent reading this and ask again for all of your prayers and well wishes in November. The task will be challenging and tiring, but I can honestly say that achieving this goal will be beyond my wildest dreams. Our dreams are one of the things that make our life worth living. I think it’s time to get start on this dream of mine.
- Writer Wednesday – Interview with Chris Baty (founder of NaNoWriMo) (writermummy.wordpress.com)
- Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo (lorelai365.wordpress.com)