This November is signficant in a number of ways, but there are two I'm focusing on here:
- Every November since 1999, hordes of wild-eyed windmill-tilters throw themselves with wild abandon into National Novel Writing Month, a gleeful slice of literary anarchy wherein various and sundry attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
- November 6 is election day, and this November we're choosing a president.
Now I'm not someone who beleives only presidenial elections are important, but the fact that this November is a presidential election has me somewhat worried. I've done NaNoWriMo since 2003, and looking over my wins and losses tally, it is clear to me that, statistically speaking, I have a much better chance of reaching the 50,000 word mark at the end of November if a Democrat is elected President of the United States of America. Dip below the orange thingy and I'll paint you the whole, stark picture.
NaNoWriMo is sort of the Iron Man Triathalon of writing competitions. To reach 50,000 words by the end of November you have to average 1,667 words a day. This looks a lot easier than it really is, because November doesn't just disappear: if you have a spouse, you still have a spouse. If you have kids, you still have kids. If you have a job, you still have a job. And all those life things have a habit of somehow magnifying ten thousand fold, making it easy to skip a day here and there until suddenly you realize you need to write 5,000 words in one night in order to "catch up," which some people can do just fine but I can't and I hate them.
Not to mention Thanksgiving. Those of us living in the US will likely be going to family events for a few precious days out of the month, and we'll be forced to, you know, talk to people instead of writing words. And by the end of the month, when you're completely fried and coffee has somehow lost the ability to keep you awake, and the clock is ticking down, and you're considering flying out to the West Coast just to give you three more hours of writing time before midnight on November 30, and your friends and loved ones are commenting rather worriedly on your thousand word stare... that is the exact moment when you remember that Goddamn computer game you've salivated over for the last six months is being released tomorrow, because Christmas.
November is already a stressful month. You have end of the year evaluations, and you idly wonder about whether you're going to get a raise, or a pink slip, or if you'll get into a fistfight with your ultraconservative father/mother/sister/brother/in-law/neighbor, or if it's time to put chains on the tires, or if the crack on your windshield is going to get any bigger now that the cold is coming on, and you really should get it replaced, but if it can wait till mid-January that would really be a lot more convenient. You add 50,000 words on top of that, and you're one foot in the loony bin.
You add a Presidential election to that, and things get ugly.
2003 was my first NaNoWriMo. I was enthusiastic, to say the least, and I decided 50,000 words wasn't enough. 50,000 words wasn't, technically speaking, a novel. It was a "novella." A novel was generally accepted to be 85,000 words, and I decided I wanted to hit 85,000 words in 30 days.
And I did. Boy, did I. I actually got past 90,000! I wrote a novel that roughly approximated what Oscar Wilde would have written if he'd taken Ocean's 11 and turned it into a Space Opera. So I naturally decided I was going to do it again next year.
2004. I knew what I was going to write. I was excited about writing it. I had time set aside to write it. Everything was lining up for a second success...
... and Kerry lost the election.
Something about the knowledge of four more years of Bush made it that much harder to finish writing. I lost NaNoWriMo that year, and it wasn't pretty. I didn't even come within waving distance of 50,000 words. I heard rumors that somewhere off in the distance there was a land filled with 50,000 words, but all I saw were 20,000 words, and they were all variations of "nucular."
I continued to lose NaNoWriMo for the remainder of the Bush presidency. Lose, lose, lose, lose, lose. Now, losing NaNoWriMo isn't a total loss, because I still had the beginnings of novels I could use later down the line. I'm actively finishing one of those failed projects now. But, and let me make this very clear... winning is much better.
First, they let you print out a certificate. Second, you get to save a cool little graphic that you can then put up on your website. And finally, when you update your word count on their site, the letters turn purple.
The letters turn purple. What else need be said about this? PURPLE.
This is undeniably awesome. But looking over my track record it seems pretty clear that aside from one outlier, I only win when a Democrat has won the White House.
So... look, I know that some of you may be fatigued about this election. Enthusiasm may be down. Or you may think "well Obama is probably going to win so I should vote for a third party as a form of conscientious protest."
Well stop thinking that right now, Mister or Miss or Mrs. or Ms or whater honorific you prefer. I'm trying to get to 50,000 words, and Mitt Romney wants to fire Big Bird.
Your vote isn't just a vote for Barack Obama, it's a vote for the arts. Don't you like the arts? DON'T YOU?
In November, thousands upon thousands of Democratic-friendly writers will be trying to reach 50,000 words. Your vote and an Obama victory can remove a signficant source of stress, giving us the boost we need to meet our goal in bask in glory as choirs of angels sing our praises.
This is going to be a particularly difficult year for me, since I'm currently in the middle of three ongoing projects that I've promised my readers I'll continue to update as November progresses, so really, I need you all to go out there to vote, and get everyone else to vote as well!
Art depends on it, people. Art. Writing. NaNoWriMo. And whatever shreds of my sanity remain come December. All those things depend on Barack Obama getting a second term in the White House, and that depends on your vote.
... of course there are plenty of other reasons to vote. Keeping Social Security, keeping health care reform, diluting the strength of the Roberts Court, keeping a lying puppet out of the most powerful office on Earth... all of these are valid, practical reasons to vote for Obama. And if those are the ones you prefer, hey, go with those!
But if you honestly believe that your vote doesn't make a difference? Look at me, a poor writer, taking on a burden almost more than he can bear. For only one vote you too can help support thousands of writers like me for as much as 30 days! Won't you help?
With the following exceptions: there are no monetary prizes for winning, you don't need to know how to swim or ride a bike, and there's really not much physical activity involved. Other than that it's practically identical.
What kind of world do we live in where it's possible for coffee to stop working? That's what's wrong with America, let me tell you what. Back in my day, coffee did what it was supposed to and nobody complained!
"I'll write in the airport and on the plane," you tell yourself, and then you remember the TSA will probably steal your laptop. So you drop the idea and start using Karl Rove election math (from 2006) to prove that you still have enough time to make it.
It was ultimately soundly rejected by every major publishing house in existence. existence then invented a few more publishing houses just so they could reject it as well. 8 years later I self published it because fuck you, windmill!
Non-religious writers can choose to bask in glory with a "choir of angles," a celebration of geometry, logic, and mathematic elegance.