Interview: Writing Community and National Novel Writing Month (Part 2), with Becca Patterson

Writer Becca Patterson, aka Mreauow, is one of three Municipal Liaisons for National Novel Writing Month in the Minnesota: Twin Cities Region. In Part 2, she talks about the participant-organized events that make this region particularly lively, and her own journey from participant to Municipal Liaison.

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E. P. Beaumont:  Tell us a bit about the National Novel Writing Month events in the Twin Cities region, and how they grew. 

Becca Patterson: There are three really big ones. The Jump Start weekend, the 28 hour tour and the 24 hour write in.

We’ll start with the origins of the 28 hour tour as it’s the oldest. One year a writer Callipygian King was falling behind on his word count and needed to do something drastic to get caught up. He posted in the forums that he was going to do this marathon write in moving from coffee shop to coffee shop until he was caught up. A few people joined him. They posted to the forums about it all the way along and a lot of other people thought it sounded like fun, so they asked him to do it again. It grew and grew until one of the coffee shops said “you can’t come back, your group is too big”. By then there were enough people wanting to join that it made sense to split it up into a few smaller routes that would converge on one place to spend the night.

Jump Start weekend was the brain child of several writers who all wanted to get a big lead in their writing right at the start of the month (I was one of them). So the four of us decided to book a room at Mystic Lake Casino – because casinos are great for having cheep rooms and food because they expect you to gamble. We had a system of rewarding ourselves for each 1000 words we wrote – we passed around a post it note so everyone could write congrats on it then we stuck it to our computer. By the end of the weekend I was up 19,000 words and my computer was completely covered in post-it notes. That also got a bit response of others wanting to join in so this year we’ve rented a conference cabin at a small resort and there will be at least 9 people in attendance – which will leave us with a bit of extra cash to donate to the Office of Letters and Light (OLL).

Finally we have the 24 hour write-in, started in response to complaints from some writers that they couldn’t make it to the tour because of work. Rather than duplicate the tour, we found a community center (Geek Partnership Society – GPS) that would let us use their space for a noon to noon write-in. We con’t have anything scheduled yet for Thanksgiving weekend, but we’d be happy to help someone who wanted to take it on.

E. P. Beaumont:  So when did each of these events start? (or as they’d say in another context, “How long has this been going on?”)
Becca Patterson:
The writing tour, I think started in 2007. The 24 hour and the Jump start both started last year (2011)

E. P. Beaumont:  From talking to other people on the NaNo boards, I’ve learned that our region (Minnesota – Twin Cities) is one of the most active in the nation. What’s the secret of that success? I notice on the calendar that nearly any day during NaNo there’s at least one write-in somewhere in the region.
Becca Patterson:
We are a “do it yourself” region. Meaning that if you want an event to happen – plan it. Let the ML’s know so they can put it on the calendar. Other than that, the MLs really only need to be involved if you need special resources (like a community center that will let you be there all night).
Once people realize that they have the power to make things happen, they usually jump at it. There’s no point in complaining that there’s no write-ins in your area if all you have to do is set one up. Just do it. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of people who try to whine about it, but they don’t get very far. We are proud of the fact that you absolutely cannot physically make it to every write-in. It’s freeing in a way. When you can’t make it to them all you don’t feel the pressure to try. You pick the ones that work for you and have a better month because of it.
E. P. Beaumont:  Wow. So what made you want to become a Municipal Liaison?
Becca Patterson: Hanging out with the other MLs. I just happened to like a lot of the same write ins that they did, and I usually got there a little early so I was there when they were talking about things. I just sort of happened that they started asking me for my opinion about various things. Then when Theresa decided to step down, she encouraged me to step up. Since I already knew Nell that wasn’t such a hard thing to do.
Then there was my year-round writing group (MnNaNo). They liked the idea that one of their own would be an ML and encouraged it too.

***

More in part 3, appearing tomorrow! Meanwhile, read about Becca’s NaNoWriMo project at her novelist profile.

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One Response to Interview: Writing Community and National Novel Writing Month (Part 2), with Becca Patterson

  1. Jean Lamb says:

    I’m going to be up at Orycon this weekend–however, on Friday, Mike will be doing most of the driving up there, and I can write while he’s driving. On Sunday, reverse the process on the way home. Saturday? Not a chance! But I start tomorrow morning–have the chapter outline and the first three scenes of the first chapter picked out. See, just because you’ve gained the trust of a baby dragon doesn’t mean your problems are over. Navarre is a *talkative* baby dragon, with as many questions as a four year old toddler. Or more. Poor Tameron has a hard time finding a babysitter when Navarre can fly away at any time. And his friend, Julian, has just found out that he’s a wizard by blowing up inert ingredients. Tameron’s not supposed to leave the city because of that little inquiry about a past employer by the Mercenaries’ Guild…but he has to, to help Julian.

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