I have a checkered past with National Novel Writing Month. I first signed up for it years ago, and then my mother broke her hip and everything else went by the wayside. I tried again in 2010, and won, and had a great time; skipped 2011 because I was in the depths of despair about my writing, and then tried to try again in 2012 – and my mother fell again, and everything went by the wayside again. I get the sort of feeling my mother doesn't want me to finish my book. Maybe
next this year.
One huge reason I continue to want to participate in NaNoWriMo is the spirit of it. The buoyant enthusiasm is surprisingly warming and encouraging. Pep talks usually make me roll my eyes. I generally look askance on cheerleaders and raises an eyebrow at unbridled optimistic zeal, and I've learned the hard way that shooting for the moon does indeed mean landing among the stars if you miss: in a leaky escape pod with no food or water and no rescue until an hour and a half after the air's run out or fatal hypothermia has set in, whichever comes first.
But The Office of Letters and Light – the beautifully named group of madpeople who run NaNo every year – are special. They participate themselves, and know the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs, the smiles and frowns of the project – and they genuinely want all their participants to have fun and just maybe triumph at the end of it. They pepper the website and NaNo inboxes with humor and silliness and cleverness and inspiration, and somehow cynicism and pessimism wither away in the onslaught.
It's kind of awesome.
And the fearless leader of this merry band, the one from whose forehead NaNoWriMo sprang fully formed and wearing a silly Viking hat, is Chris Baty. No Plot? No Problem! is both the tale of that genesis and a week-by-week primer on how to survive and succeed in a month of frenzied writing. It's irreverent, it's inspirational, it's subversive (I was scandalized – scandalized, do you hear! – at the tips on how to NaNo at work without getting caught), it's fun (no real surprise there), and it's practical – there's a truckload of good advice here, from a man who knows whereof he speaks. This is why I love NaNoWriMo, whatever my rocky road through it has been – it's all about joyful creation. Chris Baty brought something magnificent into the world. Thank you, Chris.