Writing, already a somewhat esoteric activity, is something that becomes more surreal when performed in a room filled with chandeliers made from plastic dolls, metallic pedal-cars suspended from the ceiling, and a flock of writers kicking off NaNoWriMo. The first thing I did when entering the room full of people I didn’t know was to put my laptop bag on a table, launching packets of artificial sweetener into a shotgun pattern on the floor. I looked up at the ceiling, and a humping pair of golden spray-painted mannequins looked back at me.
The one on the bottom looked a little surprised, but whether it was by me or the one behind him, I wasn’t sure. A paper moon was hanging from the center of the ceiling, with another golden mannequin holding up the bottom of its crescent form. It shone on a pink Eiffel Tower filled with plastic baby doll heads. Another mannequin, in modesty, had adorned itself head-to-toe in a silver wrapping of Mardi Gras beads. Where else would I want to be on Halloween, waiting for midnight to strike, starting the clock on my countdown to crank out at least 50,000 words in 30 days?
So, here I sit, in a two-toned, metal-flake vinyl covered chair, watching the clock and wondering how this will all go down.
It is an interesting collection of folk, the Baltimore NaNoWriMo crew that decided to make the trek to The Paper Moon Diner, ranging in age from college-ish to balding and middle-ageish. I’m on the older side of the spectrum, and I’m OK with that. I’m wondering how much the room has written, how many years they’ve been doing the NaNoWriMo, and how many completed manuscripts they have among them, and how many of those that have been published. I’m willing to bet the answer would surprise me, but not sure of whether it would be by its glut or scarcity.
This is how my first NaNoWriMo begins, in awkwardness and solitude within a room full of writers, talking amongst themselves while I tap the keys on my laptop.
Every once in a while, I stop, look up, and take in the surrealism of it all. With its Halloween-costumed fiction writers and encrustation of Freudian freak-show décor, this room contains more of it than the Dali Museum.
This is my perfect beginning. Now to figure out how to start the manuscript…
Only a few more minutes until midnight.