The Camp NaNo Loser

I’d looked forward to Camp NaNoWriMo. Since 2009, I have loved writing my way through November, learning about myself as a writer and creating this text that, for better or worse, comes from me and is born of my own imagination. When I heard they’d be holding summer sessions in July and August this year, I signed up for the August camp and got ready to write.

It’s worth noting that I’ve reached the 50,000 mark (the word count required to “win” NaNoWriMo) in November 2009 and November 2010. In both cases, my novel was far from finished, but I had a tremendous start. Really, you’d be hard-pressed to find a novel of substance that’s only 50,000 words. I finished the first draft of my 2009 work in June 2010, and I continue to work on my 2010 work-in-progress now. So August seemed like a great time to get back into it and cross the final finish line.

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On Goals

As I write this, I’m sitting in the classroom where I first read about Romeo and Juliet and Miss Havisham: my 9th grade English classroom. A new teacher came into this room the next year, and while the teacher’s desk is now in the back corner as opposed to the front center, while the desks are now facing the back of the room as opposed to the front, and the blackboard has since been replaced by a white board, this room is still familiar. The same sickly green paint typically reserved for hospital rooms covers the walls, and the view out the window hasn’t changed (aside from the house across the street that burned to the ground and was rebuilt). I can quite acurately walk to the spot in this room where I sat and read Great Expectations. I can see the spot where the new girl was sitting in study hall when I wrote her a note welcoming her so that she would feel more comfortable here. She looked nervous. Where I sit right now is very near the area where I would rest my head against the side board during 9th period and wait for the day to be over.

I wasn’t a stellar student in 9th grade. I could have had amazing grades if I had just tried a little bit, but I didn’t really care. My attitude toward academics would change in a few months, but I was a much different person in 1997-98. Once the fog lifted off of 7th and 8th grade, arguably the worst two consecutive years of my life, I was actually relatively happy. In truth, I had just as much of a love-hate relationship with myself in 9th grade as I did 10 years later with the 9th graders I was teaching. But in my mind, it is always springtime when I think about 9th grade. Everything seemed just on the verge of happening: softball season would be starting, school would be over soon, summer league would start up, I would finally be done struggling my way through biology with a teacher who seemed to hate me for reasons unknown. Junior high would be over and high school would be starting. More importantly, I was making new friends, coming out of my shell a bit. New friendships are fabulous because there’s always that sense of, well, newness. Continue reading