Somewhere in Bristol, England, a twenty year old woman is chortling with glee. I do not share her joy because it comes at my expense. A challenge of words, the night owl vs. the early bird and for the time being, the night owl has prevailed. But I’m not done yet…except for the rather inconvenient complication of having already written THE END to a novella of 37k words vs. a novel of 50k words necessary to earn me a NaNo win.
But I’ve recently discovered that a good eighty percent of the “fun” of NaNo’ing is the camaraderie and friendly competition it inspires amongst the writers. My arch nemesis is someone I only know from the internet. I think she was one of the first brave souls to critique my debut “share your work” chapter at the Absolute Write forum. Since then she’s offered intermittent words of encouragement but now has shown a darker side. She and I have been posting smack talk about who’s moved closer to the 50k goal. I was ahead until she had a burst of youthful energy that she not only used to pull ahead but to publicly kick my butt. All in good fun, of course (at least that’s what I keep telling myself.)
What do I know about this young punk who dares to challenge me online in front of thousands (okay maybe just hundreds) of witnesses? She’s a 20 year old law student and her father works or worked for the Office of Serious Fraud. Only in the UK would there be such an entity. I once posted a question online asking her which agency handled the mildly troubling frauds and then immediately regretted my impertinence. Thankfully, she saw the humor in my remark and did not take offense to my offhanded ribbing of her government…or so I thought at the time. Now I’m not so sure.
I also know that she’s written and is editing a paranormal story with possibly the most tragic and devastating first chapters I’ve ever read. Yet further proof and warning of the dark depths to which this young woman is capable of diving. I can’t deny, however, that it’s incredibly well written and shows the brilliant type of talent that is perculating somewhere in the lower intestines of England. And no, I don’t mean like a giant fart.
But what I know most about her is that despite our vast age difference of nearly thirty years, humor is age neutral, encouragement is age neutral, friendly competition is age neutral and talent is age neutral. The ultimate ability to win and lord it over the loser, however, is a reckless trait of youth while the ability to win and offer lessons in humility remains limited to the exclusive realm of the old and grizzled.