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I’m nearing the halfway point of both my Attitude of Gratitude challenge as well as November which is NaNoWriMo for me. My Novembers are action packed, but it is with the things that I love!

I really love sharing my life and helping others. Especially when this involves mentoring the rising generation.

Several times in my life I joyfully accepted the opportunity to speak and work with the youth in my community. For a year I worked with the teen girls at my church to help them in their achievement program. That was a lot of fun!

Recently I spoke to a classroom of girls at my Church about improving their photography. Do you know how humbling that was? When asked, I wanted to scream, “I’m not worthy!” It was so much fun and I hear several girls enjoyed it, so that is good.

There’s something different, though, when you stand in front of a classroom of strangers. It is that much scarier, you feel that much less worthy, and you feel that much more pressure to impart the precious words of wisdom these youth need to hear.

This month I have the amazing opportunity to work with the amazing students at my local high school as they join me in NaNoWriMo.

It began last year. My friend is one of the librarians at the school and wanted to encourage the students at the school to participate. I give her credit, she has done an amazing job!  We have a virtual classroom on the Young Writer’s Site. She gets swag to bribe the group with. She even stays after school several afternoons a week so that students may use the library to work on their novels.

She emailed me, as a then three-year NaNoWriMo winner to ask me if I would mind helping out. To be there for these youth as the “voice of sage wisdom, experience, and advice” or some such utter garbage like that. Me? Sage anything? Wise? Surely you jest!

I accepted. Then I stressed. What was I going to say to a bunch of teenagers? Teenagers that I just knew would remind me of myself at that age? Me, who has never published a book in my life, even though I might have six sitting here on my hard drive begging for edits and the chance to meet would-be publishers?

It ended up being a wonderful and rewarding experience. It gave NaNoWriMo a new angle for me.

This year, I returned. Now a four-time winner of NaNoWriMo, and still unpublished. I spoke with the students, I answered questions, I encouraged them.

Yesterday we held our third write-in.  I talked with the youth gathered about the process, their experience, their targets, their ideas, and so forth.  We talked about ideas, I issued a few challenges, we even joked around about writing itself and things we’ve read.

I wrote 1,000 words. Not bad.

It invigorates me to work with these precious future writers. I love their energy and enthusiasm. Even when I’m struggling, they encourage me to find a way to push through. While we gave the students the option to go with the Young Writer’s Program so they didn’t need the large goal of 50,000 words – many chose the official NaNoWriMo goal anyway. Those that are lagging, they aren’t worried. They believe they will win.

I believe they will win as well.

I love hearing them talk about what works for them. I’m interested in where they get their ideas. I love to see the sparkle in their air as they wave their hands describing the majestic worlds forming in their novels.

Personally, I think that they are mentoring me far more than I am mentoring them.

I am nearing the end of my NaNoNovel, extremely ahead in this game of insanity that I love so much. I look forward to my future write-ins with this group leading up to our spring book launch. That’s write (ha!), we won’t just have a “We Survived!” party post-NaNo. Our work goes on well past November as we work to edit our novels.  In the Spring we (those of us completing our goal) will receive our free novels from a grant the library received. A copy for us and a copy to live on in the high school.

Each student that wins NaNo will forever leave a mark on the school. A generation from now, when they are in my place, they can pull their novel off a shelf to show the students.

How exciting for them!

How exciting for me to watch them go through this!

So thank you to the good students and staff of my local high school for giving me this wonderful opportunity. I love you all.

To the students and staff writing for all they are worth – Good luck! May your muse gift you with high word count this weekend.

I suppose I have a Pep Talk to go write for them.

–Lady O