The best month of my life began when my state was swept by Hurricane Sandy. On a crisp Friday afternoon in October of 2012, I walked home from school expecting to return the next week. The storm lasted longer than we expected; a week came and went with no sign of school.
The boredom grew with each day. I attempted to entertain myself by surfing the web. One of the few non-hurricane related Twitter trends was #NaNoWriMo. At first I thought nothing of it, but my interest piqued when one of my favorite writers, Lois Lowry, author of The Giver wrote a blog post promoting it.
After a bit of research, I learned that NaNoWriMo stood for National Novel Writing Month. For the duration of November, thousands of ordinary people, including me, dedicated a part of their day to write 1,667 words. By the end of the month, these ordinary people would have each written a 50,000 word novel (approximately the size of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby). I created an account to try my hand at the challenge.
At the beginning, I had my doubts. Novels were written by adults with experience, not teenagers trying to kill time. Despite the odds racked against me, I fell in love with the challenge and began writing every second of my spare time. I was going through a rough time, and writing was my therapy. I was writing nearly 2000 words each day; I struggled with juggling schoolwork and novel time. My social life went on hiatus. A lifetime supply coffee and quite a few lessons in time management later, I learned that gratification wouldn’t come quickly. Once I accepted this, it became easier to take the month day-by-day. I was astonished to realize that I wrote an entire novel—two days early.
A story that began as a way to pass time developed into the greatest accomplishment of my life. Thirty days and 50,025 words after Sandy struck, I joined thousands of NaNoWriMo novelists (including Sarah Gruen, author of the bestselling Water for Elephants) in the process of editing my novel.
I am home in November, in sleep deprivation, and in hurricanes. I am home in novels.