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2011 NaNoWriMo Success
By Suzanne Langdon
On November 1, 2011, 19 Austin High School students, an English teacher and a Parks & Recreation employee took on the challenge of writing a novel in 30 days. National Novel Writing Month is each November and is celebrated by a non-profit organization based in California called The Office of Letters and Light. The contest is appropriately named NaNoWriMo and the contestants are lovingly called WriMos. The part of the contest they all took part in was the Young Writers Program built for those under the age of 18.
Students are encouraged to lock away their inner editor and just write. Creativity is the key. Participants in the Young Writers Program are required to choose a word count goal, something that will challenge them during the 30 days of writing. Once that is done they must wait to begin their novels until November 1st at midnight. By November 30th at 11:59pm, they must have reached their goal and verified their word count via a tool on the NaNoWriMo website.
During the month, the students realized that writing a book was tough work but well worth it. The creative juices got to flowing, fingers were busily pecking away at their keyboards and the caffeine could have been shipped into their classrooms and homes directly. These 19 students were courageous in taking on such an insane project as writing an entire novel in a month.
What their classroom teacher, Peggy Baggett and their virtual classroom instructor, Suzanne Langdon discovered at the end of the month was that within this particular class there was so much energy and eagerness to write that none of the students could stop at their chosen word count goals. Their stories continued well over being 100% completed. Some, even after the contest was over, continued writing because their stories were just screaming to be written down.
When Suzanne visited the classroom the day after the contest had been completed, she asked the students if their stories took any unexpected turns or swerves. There was a definitive yes from the Austin High students. One young woman expressed that hers had taken several turns she hadn’t seen coming. There several others that were still waiting to find out what the next turn was going to be.
At the end of the challenge, 16 of the students had reached their word count goals and were allowed entrance into what the Young Writers Programs calls their Winners Circle. Both adults also completed their goals and were welcomed into the Winners Circle. As “winners”, the students will be able to obtain a free copy of their book, discounts on professional editing services, a certificate of completion and the bragging rights to say that they are a First Class Novelist. How many people in the world can say that they have completed a novel, much less completed one in 30 days?
Congratulations to each student and their instructors for their accomplishments. Participants included (winners indicated by *): Lindy Smith*, Alex DeVor*, Keven Fears, Kayla Elliot*, Beau Blanding*, Dominique Wozniak*, Sarah Beth Wheat*, Maribel Chavez, Brianna Watkins*, Evelyn Rivers*, Katie Newberry*, Erin Myler*, Rose Lira, Emily Morris*, Ashleigh Moten*, Brianna Gwin*, Dalila Gonzalez*, Brock Cubillo*, Terrance Jones and their instructors, Peggy Baggett* of Austin High School and Suzanne Langdon* of Decatur Parks & Recreation.