Story Time Sunday, 10/28/12 — the Story of the 21

Once upon a time there were 21 people.

“Wait! “ you say, “that’s too many people for a fairy-tale, but not enough people for an epic like the Iliad which ends badly but has a lot of cool fighting and a lot of gods, but not so much sex as you might expect if you compare it to — say – a soap opera.”

But all the same, dear reader, there were originally no more nor less than 21.

The 21 lived in San Francisco.  The 21 were bored and alienated — as one often is in San Francisco, which is a gorgeous city admittedly, but where people can be a bit snooty and all “we’re from New York in terms of sophistication, as well as Paris, but our weather is better, and we are the origins of all things hip.”   The 21 were also probably hungry because restaurants in SF are quite expensive.

But in the end they were hungry for words.   They wanted to make compilations of words – big verbal piles that were big like an epic, but in prose, and these heaps of words could have fairy-tale elements, and lots of characters who could be detectives, or depressives, or kids in wheelchairs, or dragons, or princesses or plumbers.

Such big compilations of epic-tale-ish type words make what is called a novel.

The 21 had a party one July and played with novel writing.   But the weather was so bright and sunny out and there were so many interesting tourists coming up to the word-party-people and interrupting them with questions like “Où est le Quartier Castro?”  and “Ich will wissen  — wohnen die Hippies immer noch in diesem Gebiet?” that the 21 got distracted.

So the 21 moved the group party time of writing novels to November.

The next November 500 people came to this goofy-sounding amateur novel writing party.  And the year after that 5000 said they’d come.   And still this group of people who liked compiling words into that thing called a novel grew.  And grew.

In 2010, 200,000 people said “I want to play with words and make a big thing called a novel!”

And this year…. How many will there be?

Dear reader — this story doesn’t have an end yet, but it’s becoming an ever bigger tale, involving thousands of people, who want to play with words and make these big sand castles of novel.

This big November party is called Nanowrimo.

If that’s not both magical and real, then I don’t know what is.

To register for Nanowrimo, click here.

For more about the history of Nanowrimo, click here.

Postscript: This year, I will be among the participants trying to realize the Nanowrimo dream…Time permitting, I’ll post an update, and share some writing, but Magically Real may be out of commission for the duration of November.

(Copyright, Stephanie Barbe Hammer, 10/28/12)

2 thoughts on “Story Time Sunday, 10/28/12 — the Story of the 21

  1. Tempting to do this, but the only way I could devote myself to the cause would be by getting arrested for something and spending a month in the slammer–that way fewer distractions. Wishing you a month of inspiration!

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