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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.