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Participant Pep Talk from Emma D.

First things first, the only reason I even remembered to do this pep talk is because my school-issued iPad loudly reminded me of it. So we all have my iPad to thank.

Man, I hate my iPad.

I’m sure iPads would be cool if I weren’t a writer. Nothing against them, but writing novels is so much harder on an iPad. It can, and shall, be done, but much grumbling will happen along the way.

In my particular case, there shall also be grumbling about propping up my right leg properly, so it won’t… get worse, I guess? In fact, I just stopped to put my special cushion on it, but that’s about it for now. The one pillow I use for it is making a nice little lap desk for the aforementioned loathed iPad, and I’m sitting on the other one. It’s only been just over a week since I had part of my right leg amputated below the knee, and my leg still feels tingly, like my right foot feel asleep. Sometimes I even reach down to itch my right foot, only to discover I do not have a right foot and my confused brain has tricked me once again.

This might be the time to mention I have cancer.

To be totally honest, I wrote my first little snippet pep talk while in the hospital for chemo. A couple of nurses came in to give me some medicine and were fascinated their little seventeen-year-old high school senior patient writes novels. And in a month every November.

When I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, aka bone cancer for those who don’t speak medical terms, in August, I never even considered stopping writing, and I certainly wasn’t giving up my beloved NaNo. Last year was the first year I participated, and the glass slipper fit. I prefer to do my writing on my bed buried under blankets, my only companions a bag of peanut M&Ms and my stuffed Hedwig, but if I must complete parts of it from a hospital bed, I shall. I don’t enjoy hospitals one bit, but I’m going to get this done. I don’t have a right foot, but you don’t need feet to write. You need fingers and a brain. I am daily grateful the tumor was in my ankle and not my hands. I have a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with my school-issued technology, but there is no way NaNo gets finished by writing it out by hand. Not happening, iPad, so behave for the next 30 days.

Really that was the pep talk part of this. Next I’m going to talk about why I write, so it might pep you up, it might not.

I write because the more I see how poorly women are treated in our country, the more I write strong, independent, beautiful, intelligent women who fight corrupted monarchical governments without the help of boyfriends. Sure, maybe they’ll end up with one, but they certainly don’t need one to overthrow the king. The more I see our LGBTQIA+ citizens forced to struggle, the more I write good, non-romantic storylines for my beloved non-heterosexual characters. It’s one of my goals to include a non-hetero character in all my novels. All of them. I’m bisexual myself, and boy, is it hard to find characters who are like me.

The second reason I write also has to do with a person. There is a boy I have known since preschool who has fallen in love with my words like I have fallen in love with his heart. I write because his girlfriend is beautiful and athletic and has hair, and I just reached up to straighten my Survivor: Guatemala headscarf and have terrible equilibrium (long before the encounter with a bonesaw). I write because we are terrible at verbal communication. Before I left school today, I left a pack of travel tissues in his locker for his cold because I can’t give them to him in person. He has read my words for years, and all he wants is to know what happens to the futuristic dystopian country ruled by a totalitarian leader while also fighting aliens. He also wants to be a ninja. I write so I can mention ninjas for him at least once a novel.

I don’t know why you write. Maybe for people. Maybe for humanity. Maybe for yourself. Maybe you write to save the endangered tuatara. I don’t even know if tuataras are endangered, but I’m reading Turtles All the Way Down, so I constantly think about tuatara. If they are endangered, they deserve to be saved.

I guess my point is find why you write. Write every day for that reason. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be as small as “I write because it makes me happy.” If that’s your reason, I share that reason as well.

Happy NaNoWriMo. Do your best. I know you can do this. Why? Because I know I can do this. And if a bald, one-footed, high school senior can while juggling her many other responsibilities, I know you can, too. 

Emma D. lives in the United States on a farm with her dog and many, many barn cats. She is a senior in high school and plans to go to college and become a history teacher while working on getting her first novel published. When she's not going to school or writing, she's reading, working on one of the many stories she is planning out, eating, listening to music, or sleeping.

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