Monday, August 3, 2015

Camp NaNo Adventure


by Josephine-Anne Griffiths


Gone are the days when I didn’t even know what NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) meant. Last November I decided for the first time to take part in the big one. Yes, you got it 50,000 words, one month and me.

It was an awful lot of words, especially as I had never attempted anything that massive before.
50,000 words – what was I thinking? 1,667 words needed to be written on average per day, to stay on target. Well, that lasted a good couple of days. November 2014 came to a close and I had created 20,000 beautiful words – actually truth be told, I had in fact written a jumbled mess of heart wrenching emotions, which just happened to add up to 20,000 words. Hmmm, so why would I go ahead and do it all over again?

I think the thing that got to me the most during November was the loneliness. “No man is an island” they say – and how true that is. Yes writing is an extremely lonely existence, but why would one choose to work alone when you had the option to be part of a team? Having signed up at the last minute as my impulsive self usually does, I didn’t really understand how it all worked. My attitude was a fervent I don’t have time to have buddies; I must write, write, write!

Sometime in June this year I noticed that there was a Camp NaNoWriMo.  Once again it would be for a month’s duration, however this time you were free to set your own word count goal. No matter how large or small, you would be in control. Yippee! I also noticed that members of Christian Writers’ Downunder were joining up and forming a virtual cabin. Well cabins could hold just twelve campers, eagerly itching to write their story, poem or draft novel. I procrastinated like you just wouldn’t believe, not due to the anticipated pressure of having to write each day. No I pretty much had that under control; even if I only write 200 words, I do write something every day. No the problem is that I do have a reputation for biting off much more than I can chew, when it comes down to just about anything really. The word impulsive comes to mind once again.  Anyway after much dithering the cabin was completely full, but upon the suggestion of the cabin’s ‘Den Mother’ Jeanette O’Hagan, I opened a second cabin and consequently became its ‘Den Mother’ …. ‘Mummy Bear’ or whatever takes your fancy.

Oh dear Jo’Anne, now what have you got yourself into?

June 30th arrived and we had two cabins ready and rearing to go.  Cabin 1 was christened “S’mores, Snores and Word Scores” and after some discussion my cabin was named “Pensive Plotters and Pantsers Fuelled on chocolate”. With twelve campers in cabin 1 and eight in cabin 2, one of our campers, Naomi suggested forming a Facebook group to enable better communication between the two cabins, and of course double the fun and virtual mischief. So viola! “S'mores, Snores and Word Scores for Pensive Plotters and Panters”  was born; and as Brian Maunder said lol... I love the name of this little group.. A more original name there ne'er was.” 


Twenty Christian writers snuggled into our virtual cabins for the thirty one days of July. Each cabin load set their space up with equally appealing home comforts. Well I am certain the S’mores, Snores and Word Scores would have made themselves at home; as us Pensive Plotters and Pantsers had all the comforts a serious writer could possibly want. Our list wasn’t too long but did include indoor fires, cosy quilts, numerous soft cushions and bean bags, an endless supply of Tim Tams, chocolate coated shortbread, macaroons, chocolate, marshmallows etc.,  not to mention bottomless cups of coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
During the evenings the camp fire was stoked and roaring. With Brian plucking and strumming on his guitar, I managed to sing a couple of songs, with our fellow campers wishing that I wouldn’t. Most nights after the camp fire had done its best, we would retreat to our own cabins to curl up in front of the indoor fires which were awaiting us. Tim Tam runs were made between cabins, as well as chocolate and marshmallows depending upon who had treats to spare. All kinds of shenanigans erupted until the wee small hours of most mornings; it really is a wonder that so many words were written. Amazing isn’t it, just how much fun can be had in a virtual cabin with like-minded people.


  
Of course it wasn’t all play and no work. Twenty passionate writers wrote just over 470,000 words during July. What an achievement! Most campers either achieved or exceeded their word count goals, with those who didn’t coming extremely close. There were difficult circumstances for many, writing around family, full-time jobs, sickness, unexpected emotions, writer’s block etc. I think the most daunting moment for me personally, was when the flash drive that my work was carefully saved upon was misplaced. It was eventually found at the bottom of a large and well stuffed handbag. What a relief – around nine and a half thousand, precious words were at stake.

More so than word count and goals, the most valuable thing that I will take from this whole experience is the camaraderie, strengthening of confidence, and sheer joy of achievement. I am sure each and every one of the campers would feel the same. Three of our campers, Naomi, Mary and Cate, who live near each other managed to have a couple of writers’ get-togethers. I heard that they had an awesome time, talking, writing, making new friendships etc. I won’t steal their thunder, as I am sure they will have much to tell about their experience.  

NaNoWriMo July Camp, 2015 was a blast, and yes, I would do it all again.
  
S’mores, Snores and Word Scores – Jeanette O’Hagan (Den Mother), Nola Passmore, Adele Jones, Jo Wanmer, David, Charis Joy Jackson, Christina Aitken, Adam Collings, Cathie Sercombe, Sue Jeffrey, Kirsten Hart and T Pariss.
Pensive Plotter and Pantsers Fuelled on Chocolate – Cate McKeown, Naomi Edwards, Iola Goulton, Brian Maunder, Jacqueline Tasik, Melissa Khalinsky, Mary Jones and Josephine-Anne Griffiths (aka Mummy Bear).
Please do comment and add your experiences to our story.

What do you think? Fun or not?  Maybe some more keen writers will join in next year - we might even need a third cabin!

Author Bio:
Josephine-Anne Griffiths previously worked in the field of finance and administration. Once early retirement became necessary, and having always been an avid reader and passionate writer, the next step became logical. Josephine-Anne, also known as Jo'Anne is married to Leon. They have six children and five granddaughters between them.


You will find Josephine-Anne at:

24 comments:

  1. Great work Jo-Anne. It was the first time I've participated in one of these Writing Blitzes and I loved it. I set the lofty goal of 50,000 which at the time seemed a decent mouthful to bite off and chew, but found that the accountability of having a group of people who were following along to be exactly what I needed. A month can drift on; kids require ferrying; bills need paying ... but something like this kept me on the straight and narrow. Now to head back into my manuscript and see how many of those 50,000 words get to keep their place!

    Thanks to everyone for your encouragement. I genuinely appreciated it.

    Cheers,

    David Rawlings

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    1. Thank you David :)

      Yes, the encouragement to just keep going was awesome. I won't be able to participate in November's challenge this year, but I am certain I'll be back at camp, hopefully in April.

      Wow! Good on you - 50,000 words on the pages :) It is a wonderful start.
      Good luck with the editing.

      Cheerio, Jo'Anne :)

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  2. Fabulous post Jo'Anne. This was the first time I'd done NaNo and it was a wonderful experience. I managed to complete my goal of 30 000 words, though it wasn't without incident. At the one-week point, I had caught up and was right on target to achieve my goal. Then I got the 'flu, followed by tracheitis, followed by a hacking cough that kept me awake at night. At the halfway point, I had reconciled myself to the fact that I wouldn't reach my goal. But then I saw everyone's encouraging posts and milestones and I thought, 'Well I'll just keep going and see what happens'.

    I felt God really holding me up throughout the month and it was a good reminder that he is the one who empowers us to write. In my own strength, there is no way I could have written 30 000 words when I felt the way I did. But it also showed me the importance of mutual encouragement and support. I couldn't have done it without the cheers and support of my cabin buddies. The total word counts for the two groups was phenomenal.

    Thanks to our two wonderful den mothers Jenny and Jo'Anne. You both led by example. And for all my cabin buddies, it was a blast. Hope I can bunk down again with you next year.

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    1. so true Nola.. when you feel that this is something God wants you to do... its kinda tough not doing it... .. mind you... its also tough doing it as well.... so ... probably best we just enjoy the journey and encourage each other. I really was inspired by my bro's and sisters in Christ during Nanowrimo.

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    1. We certainly did Lynne :)
      The only thing that concerns me is how the heck I managed to put on a kilo of weight, when all the Tim Tams were virtual .... *cough, cough* .... its true, it really is ;)

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  4. Thank you Nola. Wow, I just assumed you had done this all before! What a trouper you are. So sad and sorry that you had to get so sick, but full marks to you for persevering; and yes God always has His hand in there guiding us along, often reluctantly. God also held in His arms when I thought I had lost my 9,500 words. When I finally found those oh so precious words, I knew He was behind it ...and also knew that I must finish. Of course it isn't the finish - it's only the beginning.

    The companionship and encouragement between the cabins was awesome, I would not have survived without it. I like chipping in my two cents worth ;)
    I am absolutely gobsmacked by your 30,000 words - first time NaNo camper and so, so ill - your are amazing :)
    Happy to bunk down with you lovely ladies anytime.

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  5. I've enjoyed reading about the fun you ladies and gentlemen have been having. I'm sure lots of interesting written material has been done.

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    1. Yes indeed Paula, but so much editing and some rewriting must be done now. The whole experience was extremely enjoyable and the encouragement within the team was awesome. I'd definitely do it again.

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  6. Wow! What a lovely post and sounds like a wonderful experience. Well done to all of you and special congratulations to those who had 'life' happen (like ill health and losing your USB for awhile).... and yet persisted. I think you all deserve medals of the highest order. Thanks for sharing what it was like - would have loved to join you guys. Perhaps next year - life permitting! :) Thanks for a lovely post of what it was all about.

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    1. Thank you Anusha, yes it was a wonderful experience. It would be lovely to join you in a cabin next year :)

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  7. I loved reading this Jo' Anne... I was smiling from ear to ear as i read it. We had a wonderful month didnt we??? and you really did an excellent being the mummy hen... LOL.. and it was an honour to play the guitar during those reflective moments. hahahaha Thankyou so much for this wonderful blog.

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  8. Loved your post Jo'Anne - it was a fabulous month with each spurring the other on :) I put down 20,000 words as my goal as I had so many other jobs to do over July - but ended up doing over 50,000. I do like the flexibility of the July cabin though November is great too. Thanks to all our cabin mates for making it an enjoyable month - and to you too Jo'Anne for stepping up as den mother for the second cabin when there was no room left in the first one :) I think God knew what was needed.

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    1. Thanks Jeanette, it was a pleasure. Yes God knows best and He always comes through to show us the way. It was good for me to pop out of my comfort zone for a while.

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  9. Nicely written, thanks Jo-Anne. It was a privilege to be a part of Camp NaNo with a lovely group of Christian writers.
    Last year I did November and partnered with two non-Christian YA writers. Although this too was a terrific experience and I got to make two amazing friends on the other side of Australia, there's nothing like having other Christians to share the journey with.
    As you mentioned, one of the amazing and undoubtedly God-given benefits of Camp Nano was finding a Christian writers' group out of it. Something I didn't think I'd ever have here on the Fraser Coast.
    Just wish the rest of the cabin was closer, too.

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    1. Thanks Cate, and yes sometimes I wish Australia was a wee bit smaller - or that we had the ability to transport ourselves like in 'Star Trek' -- haha :)

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  10. I'm lost for words! I never understood what the Nano business was about. Now you've thrown out a very warm friendly challenge. If I can finish the year's radio programs, then I might dip my toe into the water.

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  11. Well done! I do love NaNo in November - but I just can't seem to face up to it in July :D

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    1. I'm the opposite Michelle; I find those 50,000 words in thirty days very daunting :)

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  12. It was great to participate in Camp Nano this year - I'll look forward to sharing cabins with you all another time!

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