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On an Empty Oberlin and NaNoWriMo

October 31, 2011

Oberlin is strange when it is empty. Walking across campus it's almost eerily still, like an abandoned ghost town with a lot of academic cred.

Part of this is because, despite the popular opinion of many of the students who file through here and then leave once their four (or five) years are up, Oberlin is never quite empty. Walk across Wilder Bowl and it may feel like it is, but break that mold and head downtown and you'll remember. For one, there are over 5,000 people who consider this place their permanent home, and it is just as much that home to them when we are gone. For another, you would be hard-pressed to find a time when all the students are gone and when the campus has fallen completely silent.

I made the choice to stay on campus this fall break, partly to decompress from midterms and gear up for the next half of the semester, and partly just to embrace that deceptive stillness. I would allow myself to laze about and watch the television I never have time for, read the non-academic books that have been piling on my desk, and to mess around on the internet for much longer than any sane person should; it is a break, after all, and in the always-overpacked schedule of the average Oberlin student, it is my belief that everyone should take as much advantage of that as they can.

One of my goals this week was to prepare myself for NaNoWriMo. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, when for the month of November hundreds of thousands of people around the world try to write a novel in a month. Or, rather, 50,000 words. Which is a lot; about 1,667 words a day, which in the life of a college student is a pretty hefty commitment. Taking into account classes, classwork, work, extra-curriculars, ExCos, and co-op hours, not to mention time with friends, the concept of adding the word-count equivalent of an academic essay every day can seem incredibly daunting.

I might be freaking out a little bit.

So yeah, I might be insane. But I am comforted by the fact that, of the many people who participate in NaNoWriMo every year, a great deal of them are college students. In fact, a number of my friends have taken on the challenge before, a few of them will be joining me this coming month, and there's even a NaNoWriMo club right here on campus which hosts write-ins and supports those taking part in it throughout November.

In the upcoming days the campus will start filling with students again, the co-ops and dining halls will reopen, and I will be trying something that I never even would have really contemplated before coming here. And I kind of can't wait.

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Responses to this Entry

I did NaNo last year! Finished, too, and only had to stay up past 4 AM to finish my words for the day once! It's a lot of fun, and everyone was really supportive.

On an unrelated note, I love your picture thingie, with the... erm... what was I talking about? I forget...

Posted by: Charlie on October 31, 2011 7:59 PM

Good luck for NaNoWriMo! I'll have to do it some year when I'm not faced with two research papers to write. Were you at the kick-off session at Baldwin last night?

Posted by: Ruby on November 1, 2011 2:07 PM

Awesome post. I'm an alum who did Nano all through my time at Oberlin (though very rarely managed to finish) and am doing it again this year. Good luck! Best advice is to get writing groups together and drink (coffee or something a bit stronger :P) and word war at slow train or decafe.

Also, a side note, you should put a profile photo up. Everyone else has one! Also, where did these black marks on my arm come from? How strange....

Posted by: Ellen on November 2, 2011 4:27 PM

I really really want to do NaNo with non-fiction next year. Like, so so desperately want to do so. It's just the motivation I need to start focusing my writing.

Also, Oberlin during breaks = the BEST.

Posted by: Ma'ayan on November 3, 2011 1:54 PM

Got a bit lost on all the different blog sections, then read this post. Now I have to ask, did you finish the 50 000 words? What was the novel called?

Great pic. LOVE the ALIEN :)

Posted by: Danie Strydom on February 1, 2012 7:04 PM

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