NaNoWriMo Day 23: Greetings from the Winner’s Circle!

Me, recovering in my "2011 Winner's Circle" tee-shirt

NaNoWriMo 2011, day 23

Today’s personal word-count goal: 50,000

Today’s actual word-count so far: 50,413

Ahead or behind? Finished, baby. All done.

The Julia Morgan Ballroom, all lit up with busy laptops

I went stag to NaNoWriMo’s 2011 Night of Writing Dangerously, and I finished my memoir in 20 days, but I didn’t do any of that alone. I entered The Julia Morgan Ballroom Sunday night and found a cozy seat between a pack of three Canadians and a pair of lesbian figure skaters, all noir-costumed and jovial.

Noir drag, arriving stag

I leaned in close to my iBook G4 to listen for its bootup chime over the din of a few hundred assembled novelists tapping away at keyboards, but the Canadian on my left and the figure skater on my right both expressed concern when I sat back, the screen still black. “Is something wrong with your laptop?”

Chris Baty's avatar and me

Then he appeared, a tower above us, NanNoWriMo founder Chris Baty himself, looking exactly like his avatar, an image plastered all over this party. He asked the ice dancer and me, casually as a guy in a bar, how our nights were going. He crouched to catch our enthusiasm, and down on our level, he noted my idling laptop.

“Oh no!” he cried. “A down laptop!” And like the prophet he is, he placed his hands on my screen and asked, “Should we lay hands on it?”

“Yes,” I said. And I wish I could write that it sprang to life in that moment, but it took another ten minutes and help from all three Canadians for me to get into the game.

Writing with the Canadians

Rally hat for the final grand

The Canadians–friends of Community Liaison at OLL Sarah Mackey–knew everything. They told me about the free drinks and directed me to the bathroom, and they knew about the secret web of electrical outlets under all the ballroom tables. And they knew I was going to beat 50,000 words at the party. They could tell by my rally hat, which I put on to celebrate the last thousand.


And I did. The Canadians and the lesbian figure skating couple cheered for me, and I headed up to the front of the ballroom to ring the bell. Another writer beat me to it; she took the stage in a mighty leap and rang the bell high above her head, face beaming, dreadlocks flying, slinky dress shimmering. When she hopped down, I mimicked her exactly and inhaled the house-quaking applause.


A beautiful volunteer directed me to fill out a form and then crowned me with a real, golden paper crown. Chris Baty shook my hand, and I reminded him that he’d seen me four hours ago like a brokedown jalopy on the side of the road. “And look at you now!” he said.

  1. What an exciting finish!! Congratulations Kristy! I’m so glad your rally hat was worn for such an exciting and bell ringing occasion.

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