For would-be novelists, November is kind of a special time. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)–more colloquially known as November–finds millions of people pounding on keyboards, all with the intention of completing a work of fiction long enough to be considered (barely) a full-size book.
Sounds about as apolitical as it gets.
Unfortunately, the minds behind NaNoWriMo don’t seem to appreciate what that word “apolitical” really means. How do I know? Because of this email the Internet-based creative writing project sent to its mailing list late last week.
As a creative writing nonprofit, we’re not a political organization. We don’t endorse candidates or support any particular party. In an ideal world, we would focus only on empowering people to write.
Yet we find ourselves in a time where people’s ability to tell their stories—and even to safely exist—is at stake.
NaNoWriMo strives to be a gateway and sanctuary for people’s voices. Our guiding belief is that every person’s story matters, and we celebrate the inclusion of all religions, races, genders, sexualities, and countries of origin. We help people find a safe space to be who they are—creators, storytellers, and world changers.
Because of this core organizational value, we join the many voices standing against the presidential executive order that bans refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
For over 15 years, we’ve had the privilege of writing alongside a community from over 200 countries, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. We don’t build walls. We strive to dissolve borders through stories, the vital human narratives that expand our worlds.
So while we are not a political organization, we feel moved to take action.
In response to the executive order, as well as any future government efforts that threaten people’s basic freedoms, we will:
Celebrate creativity over apathy, diversity over fear, and productivity over despair.
Welcome all stories and continue to make NaNoWriMo a safe space for all writers.
Advocate for the transformative power of storytelling to connect people and build a better world.
If you have concrete ideas for how we can work toward these goals (or if you have feedback about anything in this message), please share your thoughts.
Thank you for being part of NaNoWriMo. We are all individuals of different beliefs and backgrounds, but we come together through a shared passion. We pledge to remember that, and to look to our community as a model and inspiration, as we get to the work ahead.
With gratitude and optimism,
That wasn’t all. Oh, no, not by any means. They also took issue with President Trump’s desire to end the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
There are a few things about NaNoWriMo that one must consider before truly understanding the context of the above email. First, there are no prizes for NaNoWriMo. “Winners” are basically all who complete a book, and the prize is…well, you wrote a book. Not insignificant considering how few people who talk about books ever finish one, but that’s about it.
Further, since it is basically an internet writers group/contest, President Trump’s executive order will have precisely zero impact on it. None.
In short, there’s absolutely no reason for Grant Faulkner to put his name on an email about a piece of political hay that impacts his operation in no way, shape, or form.
The email is more about virtue signaling, a way to tell progressives that NaNoWriMo is with them — and screw the right-leaning members of the email list! Of course, it’s also possible they couldn’t imagine that anyone on their list actually leans right politically.
Either way, it’s proof that nothing is allowed to be non-political. You’ll be forced to care, even if there’s no actual power to make you give a flip left to them.