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Dedicated novelists make deadline

Today marks the final day of National Novel Writing Month. In what is also called NaNoWriMo, participants attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days, which boils down to scribing about 1,667 words per day.

NaNoWriMo began in July 1999 in San Francisco, according to the Web site By the next year, it had been moved to November “to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather,” said founder Chris Baty.

By the third year, NaNoWriMo “spread like literary Ebola,” according to an article in East Bay Express.

This year, the November novel writing craze had grown so much that on Nov. 1, the official Web site had 139,000 visits, a record for the site.

NaNoWriMo is part of the Office of Letters and Light, a non-profit organization Baty established to help pay for NaNoWriMo and other charities.

The official Web site contains blogs, chat rooms and a comic strip created by Debbie Ohi.

Participants also benefited from e-mailed pep talks from authors including Sue Grafton and Neil Gaiman.

The Web site has created its own sense of community in the forums, where aspiring novelists can share their frustrations and triumphs with their literary peers.

Several students from USF took on this novel-writing challenge along with their schoolwork, papers, exams, work and social obligations.

The USF chapter calls itself Velvet Botox. Michelle Joy, creative writing major, served as the regional group leader and saw herself as a “cheerleader for NaNoWriMo members.”

Joy headed weekly Write-Ins around the Tampa Bay area. Each Tuesday, the group met at Starbucks on the first floor of the Library. Other Write-Ins were held at Panera Bread on Westshore Boulevard on Fridays and Sundays.

All writers were welcome, whether novice novelists or veterans of the November writing and caffeine sprees.

NaNoWriMo offers no prizes except the word “Winner” displayed over the word count bar of those who hit the goal, and there is no competitive race to finish first.

However, those who complete their NaNoWriMo trial are given the satisfaction of knowing that they have done what so many say they want to do – write a novel and in only 30 days.