Sometime around first or second-grade, when I could not go anywhere without a book in my hand, I decided I was going to be an author. I was going to publish my first book in high school and become one of those widely popular young writers who were written about in newspapers and who kids adored. Then, I would not have to worry about getting a real job; I could just read and write my whole life.
Every once in a while, I would write the first couple paragraphs of a story. And then stop because it was time for dinner, or my friend called or I just did not feel like writing then. There would be time to finish it later, I told myself.
As you may have guessed, I did not publish a book in high school.
But, I did write the first draft of my 53,845 word novel last November, all while taking five classes in my first semester of college and being a part of The Chronicle.
November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, where thousands of people around the world try to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. On Nov. 1, this seems impossible, but in 2012 more than 300,000 people spent 30 days scribbling sentences during their spare moments or skipping their favorite television program until they reached their goal of writing a novel.
This year, the nonprofit NaNoWriMo organization expects that 500,000 writers will participate, according to a press release.
For most people, writing a book in a month sounds ridiculous. A year ago, I thought there was no way that I would finish NaNoWriMo. I did not even want to attempt it for fear of failure. Then I thought about that little girl who gave up writing her stories after a page, thinking she would start it again tomorrow. Twenty years later would I look frustratingly back at my freshman self, wondering why I did not even try to write a book then?
College students often think they will achieve their dreams after graduation because that is when “real life” begins. Yet, college should not be treated as a fake practice for reality. A diploma does not give students a ticket to their dreams. Students have to work to reach their goals and there is no reason not to start now.
Everyone on campus may have different goals, but students are in the same situation: stressed and scared that when they leave this place the life they hoped for will not be out there. That just means that college is when students must try something new, take a risk and maybe fail. It is the only way to test if you will succeed.
Making that first attempt may not make life after graduation easier. I accomplished NaNoWriMo last year, but that does not mean I am not terrified of starting the process again this November. I have no idea how I am going to balance The Chronicle, schoolwork and writing a novel. I will probably spend the month in a stressed, sleep-deprived stupor.
But that thrill of forcing yourself to do something no one, including yourself, thinks you can do is better than anything else.
NaNoWriMo is not about creating a final masterpiece and neither is college. It is about finally telling the story you have always wanted to, but told yourself you did not have time to. It is about taking that complicated class on a subject you have always wanted to learn about, but told yourself was too hard. It does not matter if your story makes no sense or if you bombed that first essay. All that is important is that you pushed yourself to put those words on paper. Everything else can be fixed in editing, as long as you take the first step.