October 31st, 11:45 pm
In order to get my start on NaNo, I’ve come to a Berkeley café that has been around forever, or at least it was around back when I was going to school here. It’s 11:30, a time when I’m normally crashed out on my couch chilling out after I’ve put the rabbits to bed. Yet, this Berkeley café is buzzing. Oh right, I remember what it was like to be out and about late at night.
There is a table of NaNoers over in the corner. Maybe 15 or more crowded around a couple of tables. I don’t like crowds, particular of strangers, so I’m sitting a couple of tables over by myself nursing my chai and brownie. I’m probably the oldest one here. It’s too late at night to making small talk
Oh well. Too late. I have been spotted and brought into the fold, name tag and all. Enthusiastic bunch. Apparently I’ll be sharing a table with Chris, the mad man who started this mess. There’s a guy who looks eerily like the actor Aaron Eckhart, who has his own smarmy charm. The woman opposite is a hot mess. It’s hard to tell if her eccentric attire is part of a Halloween costume or if she is a hot mess the other 364 days a year.
The organizers are young, perky and caffeinated. They explain some sort of contest where the winner gets to wear a lovely Viking helmet for a limited period of time. I don’t understand the rules, but then again, I don’t want to get helmet hair, much less Viking helmet hair. We count down the seconds to midnight. Ten, nine, eight . . . two and one! Start writing! The conversation ceases and sound of frantic typing fills the air. My computer goes into a coma.
After I remove the battery to restart it, the enthusiastic moderator shouts “times up!” Huh? Apparently one of the games they play during these write-ins is the periodic contest to see who can write the most words in 5 minutes. Prize? They get to wear the helmet. Some guy did 184 words in five minutes. I wonder if they made sense. But that doesn’t seem to matter, he gets the helmet.
I soon realize that the whole concept of sitting around with a bunch of people in a busy cafe trying to write is vastly over-rated. I can’t hear my own thoughts. Hot Mess One and Hot Mess Two are having intermittant conversations while writing and the smell of their french fries is distracting. As I look up, lost in thought I meet the eyes of a young fellow who looks even more terrified than I am. For the life of me I can’t remember the awesome opening line that I had come up with on my drive home from work. It’s gone. Finally, I just settle for writing my own immediate thoughts: “Oh sweet Jesus, or should that be Buddha, what in the hell have I gotten myself into?” And thus begins my novel.
November 1, 11:30 am
What a great day for writing. We are having our first big storm of the season, so curling up on the comfy chair wrapped in my slanket with my ktties curled up nearby is my idea of heaven. I pledge to finish at least my daily quota of 1,667 words before I go out and run some errands.
November 1, 2:30 pm
Ah. Sweet relief. Having more or less finished my first chapter, and going over my daily quota of 1,667 words per day, I can rest a little easier.
That is, until panic hits and I realize I had to write another chapter, or two or three or twenty. Eegads.