Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Awesome NaNoWriMo Post

This is an AWESOME NaNoWriMo story that was on their website today that I just had to share. The link to the article's website is:

For those that aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days (during the month of November). I’m participating for the first time this year, so expect lots of blogs that are my form of procrastination :P To check out NaNoWriMo a little more their website is

Q: Cylithria, you managed to participate in NaNoWriMo while serving in Iraq. What is it like to write a novel while on duty? How did you get your novel validated to win?
A: What is writing while serving in Iraq like? The short answer is: crazy. The long answer, is as vast and various as our world's military forces. During my first NaNoWriMo Iraq Novel, I was embedded in a forward observation team of United States Marines. (OORAH!) I was an experienced NaNoWriMo participant and as is my typical style, by October 31 I had nothing but the goal itself. No plot, no characters, no world - just the goal of 50K in 30 days.

We were still at a Northern Iraqi Base, preparing for forward Ops when November 1 rolled around. For the first week, after 18 hour training days, I went back to my rack and started typing what I hoped would be an ever growing story. By the time we moved out, I had written barely 3,000 words in seven days. I knew it would only get worse as we left the comforts of a base and headed into the northern-most regions of Iraq. I was right. Within 24 hours of our moving out, I realized my laptop was useless. Bright screens at night draw attention. Plus there were no currant bushes staggered in the mountains for me to plug into. Not good. Writing on paper was an option, but it held many, many drawbacks. Most of my "off hours" were at night, thus leaving me with no light. Writing by Night Vision Goggles is difficult, but somehow I wrote onward.

Two days before Thanksgiving it was the Commanding Officer who inquired as to what I was doing. He'd caught me crying. (I'd just killed off my main character; it was a heavy moment okay?) I will never forget the look on his face.

"You're doing what? National book writing month?"

"National Novel Writing Month's NaNoWriMo, I can't miss it. I haven't missed one yet!"

I lost two hours of precious writing time that evening as I explained what in the world NaNoWriMo was and why I kept after the goal. It was another Marine who asked how I "won". When I extracted the massive sheets of paper from my pack and explained I had to transcribe all I'd written into digital txt file and upload it to the NaNoWriMo validater, they all looked ... well mad! We didn't have wi-fi access where we were and while they may not have understood the point of NaNoWriMo, they could look at a calendar and where we were and know the final validation would never be done from our local. I think that one thing, being unable to officially win because we were so far from home bothered us all. I know it hung like an albatross in the cool night air. But still, I wrote on.

Three days later I am sitting down, finishing my final page of my draft. I am at 50,279 words, most hand written. I still had more of the story to write, but once I tallied my word count, I announced it to our unit. My Commanding Officer addressed my small victory for all of them. Extending his hand towards me, he gave me my orders for the night along with a CD.

"We've transcribed everything except todays batch. It's all here. We changed nothing and you spell awful. Sit down and finish transcribing the rest. We meet a supply bird at zero three hundred hours. You get it done, we send it back to your liaison at HQ - That's the best shot we can give you Dubois."

I stared at the CD and struggled with tears. "Sir, yes Sir" was my only reply. I sat and did as ordered. In a moving vehicle, I transcribed the last of my words and then burned it all to the CD. We stuffed it, along with my user name and password, into one of the many courier bags addressed to my unit in the United States. At zero three hundred hours, at a mobile Landing Zone I watched as my Commanding Officer asked, not ordered, the pilot and crew to try and get that CD to where it needed to be, and get it there in time.

As the helicopter lifted off, my Commanding Officer placed a hand on my shoulder. "That's a win Dubois. If these Nano's don't agree, you send 'em to me. I'll set 'em straight even if that CD gets lost."

Time isn't something easily found when you are on duty in a combat zone. There was nothing more for me then those words and that Oorah, and as quickly as we could we moved on once more. While I figured I'd never be ale to legally claim that year as a victory, I knew it was in my heart. It was almost midnight of November 30th, on the east coast of the United States of America when my Commanding Officer came running to find me. In his hand he waved a small, handheld computer. "Dubois, hot damn! Ya did it!" He held the screen to my face.

There, in an email from my Liaison in the United States was a screenshot image of the validation of my novel. 32 minutes before midnight. The message from my Liaison was this: "Ma'am your novel flew on three helicopters, three transport planes, rode one ship and was driven via hummer to my office where I used your login to validate it. Be advised, you are a winner! Congrats! Now, can you please forward the reports you *should* have been writing?"

As I read those words to my fellow Marines, OORAH rang out. My Commanding Officer was as thrilled as any of us. With a great many fist pumps and hand gestures he shouted out, "That's right, That's right.... she a wrimo from the region of Iraq::Northern Province::OORAH"

Being the National Novel Writing Month enthusiast I am, I did the only thing I knew to do to celebrate my victory. Using the sound system of one of our vehicles I blasted the song "Time Warp", and danced. Writing while actively serving your country in the military is a very difficult thing. Time, climates, duties and orders often get in the way. But there are no finer win's in National Novel Writing Month then winning the challenge while serving your country. OORAH!

Cylithria Dubois has been participating in National Novel Writing Month since she first heard of it over nine years ago. This year she will attempt to complete her tenth National Novel Writing Month Novel from the Michigan :: Flint Region. Three of her nine NaNo-novels have been written from various hot spots around the world. Although not currently stationed with her Marines, they actively email her for novel updates when duty allows. She still does the Time Warp after every win - no matter where she is! She can be found telling stories of her life at, on Twitter, and via email or by NaNoMail at eensybeensyspider.

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