Early darkness has arrived and the wind is picking up, but on a Tuesday evening in November, the Paonia Library glows invitingly, welcoming people who arrive to participate in an after-hours write-in. This event, designed to coincide with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), provides a venue for writers to gather for inspiration, motivation and a quiet place to put words together. A similar gathering takes place in the Delta Library the same night, and both libraries have more write-ins scheduled throughout November.
NaNoWriMo is an internationally accepted promotion in which writers challenge themselves and inspire each other to complete a 50,000-word novel during the course of the month. Social media has helped enormously to connect writers world-wide in recent years, and now the Delta County libraries are becoming part of the excitement.
After a quick chat, participants disperse to various locations in the library. This arrangement allows for undisturbed contemplation, although it makes for a long walk when a patron summons staff member Laura Lee Yates to take a look at something on his computer. Yates, a writer herself, sets aside her own writing goals on this night to simply encourage everyone else, offering books and enthusiasm. Once the group has settled, the only sound is the occasional gust of wind or passing motor noise from outside the building, and the huge library space narrows to words on a computer screen.
The Delta Library event follows a similar course, although the writers sit more closely together. Delta staff member Sunshine Knight explains, "The authors who come to write want to use that time to write," which means there is no discussion or instruction. Knight would not be opposed to offering a more interactive writing program at a later date, but these nights are for writing.
"Thank you for hosting NaNoWriMo. I've told my family I'm not available on Tuesday nights in November so I can be here," says 16-year-old Jessica Woods.
Knight herself has enjoyed writing under the guidelines of NaNoWriMo
in the past and is happy that Delta County Libraries can provide a venue. "I've never made the 50,000 word count of NaNo, but I have participated for the past four years. I've met wonderful friends and writers who have been a continued support. Because of NaNo, I've been able to complete my first novel."
Because of the introspective nature of these events, writers of all talents and ages should feel comfortable attending a library write-in. No one will ask to read their writing, there is no criticism, and even though the convention is to write a novel during the month, that, too, is flexible. Upcoming write-ins will be held at the Delta and Paonia libraries the last two Tuesdays in November, at 5:30 p.m. in Delta and 6:30 p.m. in Paonia. Computers are available, along with plenty of encouragement.