Camp NaNoWriMo Campfire Story Week 4

nanowrimo campfire

It’s the last week of Camp NaNoWriMo, and our last campfire story for 2017. Starting next week our Monday posts will be focusing on issues important to communities and identities that are underrepresented in genre fiction.

nanowrimo campfireOkay, campers, gather round. It’s the home stretch and we’re all getting a bit stressed as the deadline approaches yes? Well, except for those lucky schmucks who already finished. They can sit back and celebrate and good for them.

But for the rest of us, this week is the final count done, when anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Right?

One camper learned that lesson the hard way two years ago. She wasn’t particularly computer-savvy, so when her computer crashed in the last week of nano and she could even get it to start up, she was frantic.

Not only was she going to need to get a new computer, but her whole story, hours of work, was gone!
Heartbroken, she called a good friend who had helped her with computers in the past. “Is there anyway to fix this?”

Her friend didn’t respond right away. Finally, ze said, “Sorry, my executive dysfunction is bad today. I’m not grokking Can you explain how your computer crashing wiped your Dropbox backup?”

“Well, I don’t know if it’s wiped. But the files on my computer, so with my computer down, I can’t access it.”

There was another long silence. “…that’s not how Dropbox works. Come over this evening, after I’ve had a chance to wake up. I’m sure your story’s fine.”

The camper fretted all day and that evening packed up her computer and went to visit her friend.

Her friend set the computer to the side and called opened up hir tablet. “Look, here’s Dropbox. Do you remember your password?”

She plugged in her login information, and there it was—her Dropbox on her friend’s tablet. Her story was saved.

“See?” her friend said, “I told you when we set up Dropbox that as long as you saved your backups here everything would be fine.”

It took a couple of days for her computer to be repaired, and that set her back enough she wasn’t able to meet her NaNo goal on time. But she still had her story, and in the end, that’s what mattered.

So remember folks—it’s not enough to save your work. You need to back it up too. And if you aren’t up on all this computer stuff, it’s always okay to ask for help.

Camp NaNoWriMo Campfire Story Week 3: Do You Rely on the Writing Muse?

writing muse

We’re back for week 3 of Camp NaNoWriMo with another campfire story to keep you on your toes!

Do You Rely on the Writing Muse?

writing museJust about every English-speaking author has heard of the Writing Muse. The spirit of inspiration that fills the mind with words and ideas, makes the story flow, and is the bane of writer’s block.

Most authors eventually learn to write whether or not the Muse is with them. But a few have always relied on the Muse, either because it has always been with them or they have never tried to write without it.

And every NaNoWriMo some of these writers come to grief when the Muse abandons them.

A few years ago, a young and eager writer signed up for CampNaNoWrimo. He had written many short stories and wanted to try writing a novel. Knowing he could sometimes write several thousand words an hour, he didn’t expect to have any problems meeting the deadline.

He had a good story idea, something that had been sitting in his mason jar for a while because it was too complex for a short story. He did a bit of plotting, pre-NaNo. Nothing too involved, but enough to know who his characters were and the general direction the story would take. And when the 1st rolled around he started writing.

The Muse, as always, was with him. Words flowed, scenes rolled. By the end of the first week, he was halfway to his final word count.

When the Muse left in the middle of the second week, he wasn’t concerned. He was well ahead of schedule and the Muse had left before. It would come back. He was sure of it.

By the middle of the third week, he was getting worried. The Muse hadn’t returned, even for a short time. And now he was falling behind schedule. But, he reassured himself, when the Muse was with him, the words flowed. He’d make up the work. There was plenty of time.

The last day of the third week he sat down at his computer and stared at the draft. Willing the Muse to return and bring the words back. He tried, for the first time to write without the Muse. It was slow and painful, pulling one word or phrase out at a time and erasing as much as he wrote because it was never right. But he made some progress.

The fourth week he was desperate. He sat down each day and tried to write. Where in the past he had turned out several thousand words an hour, now he was lucky to make several hundred. At this rate, he would never finish before the 31st.

Maybe, if he had forced himself to write without the Muse from the moment it left… Maybe, if he had relied on himself for his story instead of the flighty Muse… Maybe then he would have had a chance to make the deadline.

As it was, he could only count the days and hope that the Muse would return…

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#CampNaNoWriMo Campfire Story Week 1


One of our team members, JessMahler, has participated in either NaNoWriMo or CampNaNoWriMo (and sometimes both) as often as she could manage for over 5 years–and never won. Hazards of young children and mental illness. She is also an amateur storyteller and in the grand tradition of summer camps, will be sharing a #CampNaNoWriMo Campfire Story each week of CampNaNoWriMo.

#campnanowrimo campfire story
The #CampNaNoWriMo Bonfire

Okay folks, gather round.

I know you’ve all got words to pound out, but take a break for a few minutes. (Just a few, though.)

I’m not one of the real old timers of NaNo, but I’ve been around a bit. Long enough to have heard a few tales.

This tale is from five years back. Or maybe ten. It might have been in New York City, or Allentown, or Perth. Or right next door to you. But it happened. I promise.

It was the last week of CampNaNo and a group of Campers got together at a 24-hour restaurant to do an all night writing marathon. Some of them had already hit 50,000 words (this was before you could set your own goal). Some desperately needed the all nighter to catch up. But they gathered together to support each other and have fun.

Unfortunately for Marlene, her young kid had been ‘playing’ with her laptop earlier and unknown to her had turned off auto-save on her word processor.

You can see where this is going, right?

It was a rainy night. Not a bad storm, just the kind of pounding rain that makes you glad you are inside where it’s warm. The group talked and laughed and helped each other through stuck plot points. Marlene hit a few rough spots, but made good headway, working straight through when she wasn’t grabbing a few fries to snack on.

Round about 3, one of the group, a quiet man called Top, crossed the finish line. The whole crew took a fifteen minute break to cheer celebrate. While they were all up and dancing around the lights flickered. Once, twice, and everything was dark.

You might think this wouldn’t affect our Campers. After all, laptops and tablets have batteries. But sometimes the battery for a laptop gets damaged or wears out. And if that happens the laptop will only stay on if it is plugged in and getting power. The minute it loses power, it’s off.

And, well, Marlene’s laptop had just this problem. So when the power went, so did her laptop. The lights came back up a few moments later. Just one of those temporary things that happens. Marlene groaned and grumped through booting her laptop up–it always seems to take forever, no matter how fast it really goes.

But when she opened her novel, all her work for the last five hours… was gone.

So remember Campers, this #CampNaNoWriMo protect your work. Don’t rely on autosave–manually save every so often as well. As if anyone else touches your computer, make sure to check your settings!

See you next week.