The Amsterdam Creative Writers Club is actually a Nanowrimo brainchild. The group that I run now started in November 2016 as a Write-In, for people in the Amsterdam area participating in that year’s challenge. Something unexpected happened in that November 2016. We became friends and we started meeting very regularly on Wednesday nights until we decided to switch to Thursday evening. We used to meet in the Central Library of Amsterdam until they renovated the restaurant upstairs and it became rather inhospitable. There was no Wi-Fi, and more importantly, there was no power anywhere to be had. In addition, the chairs were extremely uncomfortable.
Midway through 2017, we decided we had to move. We Begin scoping out locations, but it was a bit of an adventure. We went to a lot of places to write. Restaurants were not particularly good venues because they frowned on a bunch of writers typing away. Let’s face it, writers are often broke, and if you’re sitting at a restaurant table for three hours you really out to spend money every hour that you’re there. neither were cafés because they closed too early. What we needed was someplace that opened fairly late. A former member of the group suggested the Scheltema Bookshop in the city center. In fact, one evening after being in a restaurant just down the road we decided to walk there. Entering the bookstore was a surprise. The lighting was amazing, there were tables with power on every floor, there was even a café. And we were amongst inspiration. Where better to headquarter a writers group than a bookstore? Surrounded by all the successful people who had come before how could we fail to be inspired? And so The Amsterdam Creative Writers Club found a home for its meetings. I was surprised to learn last Thursday that we are now known to the bookstore staff. New people have been asking for us and they were directed to the third or fourth floor. It was surprising because I never mentioned who we were.
Last Thursday’s meeting was our kick-off party for Nanowrimo. For the first time in a long time, we actually needed two tables because there were so many people. It was a nice feeling. I mentioned in my last post that I was going to be a Nano rebel. Thankfully I am not the only one. In fact, I think the majority of participants at the bookshop are rebels themselves. They are not starting a whole new novel, rather they are utrying to finish existing projects. I am rather happy not to be alone in my rebellion. Are you a pantser or a planner? is a running question among Nanos. I have always been more pantser than planner. Which are you?
Last Thursday, I was happy enough to take one of my characters out of the coma he’s been languishing in for four chapters, and now I’m working on saving another one. I’m also working on saving my world. I am hoping that my 134-page novel will grow to its projected to a 200-page maximum. I have many holes to plug up. But I am a very good pressure writer and think that I will be able to get at least halfway there.
There is something inspiring about sitting with like-minded people and typing long into the night. It is both an adventure in your own head, and a knowledge that you do belong to a community. Nanowrimo does that. It is a worldwide community that relish is the written word. Every November, people from all over the world are bound by this idea of the need to write their novel.
How does this affect my teaching? you ask. Because, of course, I still have to do that. I have now started talking to my level seven students about Nanowrimo and writing stories just for fun. I have incorporated this into the context of the lesson when I am able to. Some of my students shake their head “teacher, I will never write a story. Especially not in English. I have too many homeworks.” After the inevitable correction of “too many homeworks” into “I have too much homework”, we get into a discussion of time management and how it’s possible to do everything, one wants to do and still maintain good learning skills. Nanowrimo taught me that.
That’s all she wrote for this incredible installment. I must go write some words for Nano, but also I have a full day of teaching, and a screenplay to edit. It’s a busy “weekend” for me. But stay tuned, as always, there is more to come.