Three weeks ago, I set up a fundraising page to help the Office of Letters and Light, the nonprofit organization that runs National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and its Young Writers Program. I am so pleased that I have helped raise $350 for them. A heartfelt and sincere “thank you” to all my friends and family who donated.
I will now be attending The Night of Writing Dangerously on November 20, the culminating event of this fundraising drive. I will be bringing along my friend, fellow teacher, and fellow poet/novelist, Michael Drum.
I won’t speak for Michael, but I have plenty to say on my own behalf. Over the last three years, my life as a writer has grown considerably. That first year, on November 11, 2008, I discovered Chris Baty’s No Plot, No Problem in a bookstore’s writing section. I bought the book that night, went home, logged onto the website, and began my adventures in noveling. I had no plot, but I jumped in anyway. I only wrote 16,000 words that month; I did not win that year.
But I came back, and I have won the last two years, writing 50,000 words in 30 days, completing first drafts of two novels. My goal is to win again this year.
In 2009, I told Michael about it, and he also began participating. And for the last two years, he and I have each brought NaNoWriMo into our classrooms via the Young Writers Program. And we’re doing it again this year too.
In the forums at NaNoWriMo, I learned that many people were planning to write a poem a day in April as part of National Poetry Month. I tried my hand at that in April of 2010. That didn’t stick right away, but I came back again in April 2011. And since then, I’ve continued to write poetry. And, along the way, I’ve met some amazing people and made some new friends.
There are a lot of us out here whose lives are made richer by the poems and novels we write. And by the relationships we’ve forged in our love of literature, our common ground. I do this weird, solitary thing, putting little marks on a piece of paper. And then I put it out there for others to read. I’d like to say that writing is magical. It’s not. But the relationships I’ve formed because of it – that’s magical. And I am grateful.
Thank you again to everyone who’s donated. I truly appreciate your support, both financially to the Office of Letters and Light, and in the kind words you share with me that encourage me to write – and to keep writing. This means a lot to me. And what’s important to me I have to share. I am so lucky to have a colleague like Michael, who has become a good friend – and for us to discover this other thing besides teaching that we share.
I share my passion for writing with my students. That’s no special thing. Lots of teachers do that. But it is special to me, because of the meaning that it carries for me. I’m blessed in that I can do the work that I love, teaching, and the play that I love, writing, and combine them as I do.
I’ve donated to NaNoWriMo the past three years. (I always feel a little guilty ordering free materials from them and not making a contribution.) I’m so thankful to everyone else who has donated on my behalf. They will put your money to good use, including supporting teachers in bringing writing to their students.
Please spread the word about NaNoWriMo to friends and family, and about their Young Writers Program to teachers. If you can’t donate financially, encourage crazy people like me who attempt to write so many words in such a short span of time.
In these tough financial times, you might also consider using GoodSearch. Every internet search you make from their website earns a penny for the Office of Letters and Light.