Until this month, I’d never used Zoom. Yes, two years plus of the pandemic, with all the spurts of isolation, and I’d never used Zoom. I’ve chatted face to face a couple of times on Facebook Messenger, but until Camp Nano, actual virtual meetings, with real live people–especially people I don’t even know–were not a thing in my life.
Now, I’m thrilled that they are. It’s Camp Nano month: an offshoot of the NaNoWriMo event that I often participate in. That happens in November, and for some time now they’ve been doing another group event in April.
Sisters In Crime, the mystery writers’ organization, runs write-ins during Camp Nano. That’s when a group of writers gets together virtually, and one or two people lead the event. We write for 25 minutes, have a break, and then write for another 25.
I have been having a blast. We are meeting today, in about an hour, for another write-in. There are actually several each day, and we pick the time slots that work best for us. I’ve been writing over a thousand words each time, and it has really inspired my writing.
In the last month or two, I’ve become more involved in both the main SinC online community, as well as the Guppies (the virtual chapter of Sisters In Crime). I’m a founding member of a new Guppies group for paranormal mystery writers. The book I’m drafting has grown from about 20,000 words to almost 65,000. I’m excited about my writing every day, as it’s continually surprising me. I’ve learned more about using Scrivener’s many features to help track timeline and characters, and am actually enjoying the organization process that previously felt intimidating.
I’m not a social person. However, the fact that there are so many other writers around me, all of whom experience the same kinds of joys and frustrations that I do, has been invigorating. I was feeling so stale as a writer, and my motivation had really dwindled. Health issues and so many other worries and shadows of life had made me forget how … magical … it feels to create worlds, give birth to characters, and watch the words appear on the page.
When I was young (so, so young), I was a hiker and camper. I loved being in the woods, even though the opportunity to camp didn’t come up all that often. I remember waking up on the side of Mount Marcy, in New York’s Adirondacks, with a group of friends from college one October day in the middle of a snowstorm. Man, was it cold, but it is one of the most wonderful memories of my life.
I woke up today in the middle of a snowstorm. Yes, I was in my warm, safe bed with my Italian Greyhound cuddled up with her head on my pillow, but despite the aggravation that it’s still snowing on April 19th, I smiled. I was taken back to that camping trip. We hiked the trails all the way up to Indian Falls when a ranger finally tracked us down and told us to get our butts back down the mountain to the lodge.
During Camp NaNo, and I know it will extend well beyond, I feel the same thrill of climbing that mountain again. There are dangers along the trail, most certainly, and there will be stumbles and pitfalls. But wonders appear at every turn of the path. The pinnacle is in reach, a story complete, and I can see it shining above the clouds.