I do Nanowrimo every year, the National Novel Writing Month in November. Every year, the Bay Area office holds a “Night of Writing Dangerously,” where hundreds of writers come together for dinner and a writing marathon. It’s a fundraiser for the Young Writers Program.
I wanted to go for years, but couldn’t afford a ticket. Then my mom gave me a check for my birthday one year, so I could do something nice for myself. I treated myself to a creative night out.
There were things I liked about the evening: sitting at a table full of companionable writers, all of us head-down over our laptops. Working in a room filled with writers, all of us hard at work making things that didn’t exist before out of words. Knowing that my admission was going to encourage young people to write.
Unfortunately, there were downsides that mean I may never go back again to another Night of Writing Dangerously. Some could be fixed by the organizers, but I’m afraid some are intrinsic. People just have different ideas of fun.
For instance, the cocktail reception before the doors opened meant that some people were going to spend more time being sick in the bathrooms than writing through the evening. Then the organizers gave speeches during our writing time, instead of while we were eating. I suspect they intended for us to socialize while we were eating, instead of listening to speeches about all the good our fundraising would do, but it was hard to concentrate during the working time, while amplified voices cheered our good works. And there was a whole lot of silliness about word sprints and typing as fast as you could for prizes, lots of cheering and applause and chaos.
I had hoped to swim in a room full of inspired people shaping words into books. I intended to write a record number of words (for me) in an evening. I guess I’m antisocial enough to want to sit with a ballroom full of writers I don’t know, draw inspiration from their presence, but not actually have to interact with them.
Despite the disappointment, I’d still like to participate in a flashmob of writers some day. Imagine all of us settling down in the public library or Justin Herman Plaza or the meadow beside the Conservatory of Flowers and just cranking out of masterpieces. No expensive tickets, no speeches, BYOB, and everyone begin.