Don’t forget to Validate your novel!
Here is your bow, over there is the archery range, the counselor announces, pointing. You are giddy with the excitement born from years of pretending to be Robin Hood in the “forest” at the park. You can almost see the Sheriff of Nottingham sniveling at your feet. You can hear the “whiff” of the arrow slicing through the air on its way to the center of the target. You scoff at the idea of being only 15 yards from the bales of hay holding the targets. You scoff at the bales of hay. You’ve been practicing archery for years. It doesn’t matter that it was all in your head, visualization has helped athletes (like you) for years.
You confidently step up to your mark, knock your arrow, draw back and let fly! You lose it as it sails effortlessly toward the bull’s eye. You hear a loud “Yelp!” off to your left and wonder as you stare at you target, what that was about.
You find out soon enough. The bow is taken from your hand and you are led over to some benches by one of the counselors.
“So, what were you thinking?”
“What? I’m really good at archery.”
“Clearly, you are not.” The counselor indicates another counselor who is being laid down on a stretcher with an arrow in his keister and carried off.
“I didn’t do that!?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, you did.” The counselor looks at his lap. “You’re enthusiasm is admirable but let’s start again.”
Three weeks ago we set a target for a word count that we each wanted to reach. Last week we were halfway through the month. Were you at your halfway mark? Were you anywhere near your halfway mark? How about now?
The nice thing is that this month, for Camp NaNo, we can change where the target is up until the end of April 24th. Feel free to move your target. Enjoy and exercise the freedom given to you by our gracious Camp NaNo hosts. Move your target forward if you are nowhere near it. Move it back to challenge yourself if you are near to it.
The nice thing is that this is the last full week of your writing. Your characters are fleshed out, your plot is thick enough. From here it is basically all “downhill”, gravity takes over from here and you will have to work to stop the momentum of your story.
So shoot away at that target. No keisters will be harmed.
You started off on the trail horse with the rest of your group. You hoped and trusted that the stable hands knew what they were doing when they cinched up the saddle. And off you rode with the confidence of “The High Plains Drifter” to seek your fortune on the trail and to prove you’ve got “True Grit”.
Yes, there are people in front of you but there are people behind you as well. You all have varying goals; some want to just ride a horse for the first time, some want to recapture their youth, some want to see the scenery, some want to photograph but you all have the same destination, the end of the trail.
You have been riding for a couple of hours now. You are starting to feel a little saddle sore, okay, let’s say what we feel; the butt hurts. The horse periodically takes off in a spleen jolting trot or stops randomly for a big bite of the delectable green grass on the side of the trail. One seasoned horse rider gets annoyed at the incompetence of the riders in front and gallops past you. You won’t admit it but you secretly hope that the jerk gets bucked off or at least in trouble for not following the rules. You also won’t admit that you wish it was you running freely with the wind in your hair.
You ride up a hill. You feel like you are going to slide right off the back of the horse but the saddle keeps you on. Whew. Thank you saddle and thank you stable hand for cinching the saddle correctly. You get to the crest of the hill and all of the group is milling about and looking out at the vista. You can see forever. The sky is clear and there is a forest of multiple shades of green below you and it all goes on as far as the eye can see. It is breathtaking.
The leader announces that if you look off to the southwest you can see your destination. And you can, just
There is a blue roof among all of the green. It looks so small and so far away.
You revel in the fact that you are on a horse, the Mercedes of the animal world. You look down at your trusty or perhaps more rusty steed and realize it’s maybe not the Mercedes, but at least it’s not the Yugo.
You have made it halfway through your trek. Your goal, though far, is in view. You can do this. You can complete this goal. You are filled with hope and wonder at your own amazing awesomeness!
Suddenly, you find your world slipping sideways. “What the…!” You yell as you are dumped head first on the ground. You sputter the dirt from your mouth and bless the helmet that you originally cursed. You lift your head and look at your backstabbing horse. How did it throw you off? The horse just looks back at you blankly. The leader walks over and jumps off of her horse and asks you the questions they ask all people who have been dropped on their heads, “What’s your name? How many fingers do you see? Are you okay?” You answer but there is a definite edge of anger and humiliation to your voice. She ignores it as she inspects the horse.
“Ah, here’s the problem.” She tightens the betraying cinch of the saddle. “They didn’t get it tight enough. Sometimes that happens. Glad it happened while we were stopped.”
Oh, yes, you think. Lucky me.
You are sore, you are embarrassed, you are trying to figure out how to get back on that enormous beast that is still just staring at you. Do you even want to? Your grandfather’s words come to your mind. “If ya’ fall off a horse, you get back on.” Ha, you think. Why bother? You can walk the rest of the way. This whole thing has been hard.
The trail leader looks at you as she holds her hands out to give you a boost back up. “You’ve come this far. Are you really going to give up? It’s all downhill from here, Rider, so get up, dust yourself off and get back on that horse.”
You, writer, have come this far with your Camp NaNo endeavor. It has been difficult. You have been thrown by your characters. You plot has come undone. But you are halfway there. Yes, you may be behind, the last one in the pack, but you are moving forward doing something that you’ve always wanted to do. Will you quit now? Or will you get back on that horse and ride the rest of the way.
It’s all downhill from here, Writer, so get up, dust yourself off and get back on that horse and know that there is a stable and rest and the knowledge that you’ve achieved the once unachievable waiting for you at the end of the trail.
Back in school, a dear friend referred to Underwater Basket Weaving as an “easy A” class. She made it sound so simple. But when I signed up for Underwater Basket Weaving it turned out to be much more difficult than promised.
I was so excited at the prospect of combining two things I loved, being in water and the decorative interlacing and interplay of reeds and wicker. I gathered my supplies: reeds of various sizes, goggles and snorkel, clippers for trimming the reeds and assorted other necessary items and found my way to my first class. Initially, there was nothing to it. We sat on the deck of the pool and learned some of the techniques we would need for keeping the shape of our basket. Then we practiced breathing with the snorkel. That was a strange experience. The noise the air made as it rushed through the snorkel was distracting and disorienting to me. But, I thought, it must get easier. This is an “easy A” class after all.
I was badly mistaken. We entered the water with our underwater gear and our weaving necessities and began.
I step in now to say, My friend was a big liar! There was nothing simple or easy about “Underwater Basket Weaving”! It was nearly impossible to keep the warp under control and the weave compact and the noise of my breath in my snorkel was so loud underwater that it really freaked me out so I took it off! Let me tell you. Static apnea is way harder too. I was literally and figuratively WAY over my head.
Now, as your Camp Advisor, I see that you have signed up for something similar to “Underwater Basket Weaving.” NaNoing looks like an “easy A” at first, too. You have your plot idea and that’s the hard part right? Writing is just stringing words together and you’ve done that since you were a little kid.
So, you jumped into this endeavor with both feet, excited and filled with the promise of that “easy A”. But now you’ve hit the second week. This is where the task starts to really get daunting. Your characters have stopped talking to you and each other, you’ve discovered that there’s more to a plot that just the idea, the house has never been cleaner because somehow washing those walls is suddenly more appealing than sitting at your computer.
I’ll share with you what I learned in “Underwater Basket Weaving”. Stay calm and keep going. Yes, it’s difficult and at the moment it feels impossible, but it’s not. You’re at the part of the basket where you are moving from forming the base to forming the walls. Just keep at it. In a few rows and in a few days it will suddenly become so easy. The story will suddenly take on a life of its own and it will barely need you. Just come up for air on occasion and then get back to it. Keep at the task, round the corner of the basket, change your goal if need be (you can until the 25th), get past the difficult part of writing and you’ll be just fine.
Underwater Basket Weaving is no easy task and neither is writing, but what Worthy Goal ever is?
Please get checked in and settle into your cabins. This will be a fun month of fantastic camping fun and activities. You are going to meet new friends and hang out with old ones. You’ll try your hand at new tasks like less word padding, finishing a novel, outlining for the next NaNo, or even writing your first script or graphic novel. That is what this camp is for.
So first things first. Let’s get your contraband. Come on, turn out those pockets. *Gasp* What is THAT?! That looks like an Inner Editor! Did you bring that in here?
Well, never mind. I’ll just take that. You can have it back when camp is over and you head back to your other life. Until then, that inner editor will be safely locked up in the office. No, don’t even bother asking nicely. You can’t have it back until then. There’s a good camper.
Look over the list of activities and decide on your target word count. Fill in your Camper info on the Camp website. Get to know your cabin mates. Drop into the lodge (aka our Spokane regional forum) and chat with some of the other campers and find out where to hang out and write. We have a few informal and unofficial write-ins for the month.
Off you go now. Change into your swimming clothes and go enjoy our first activity, swimming.
Okay, campers, listen up. This is where we all start. First we read the list of rules. Well, guidelines really.
1. No running on the dock. (Safety first, you know)
2. No foul language in the forums. (This is a family camp, after all.)
3. DO NOT try sneaking into the office to steal your inner editor. Trust me, it’s safer in there this month.
4. Have fun!!!
Now, campers, we are going to jump in with both feet. We are going to swim around and get our bearings. We are going to splash and swim and have fun in the big lake of creativity. We are going to get soaked in Word Count and we are going to drench our companions and fellow campers. We will laugh.
So this is it, campers! Get out there, have some fun and make some memories!
~ Your Camp NaNo Counselors: Pacifika, Dichotomy6958, & Jaycegrae