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2 reviews

Review for The Office of Letters and Light, Berkeley, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Once again my daughters wrote novels after signing up with the Office of Letters and Light and their NanoWriMo program. Both daughters, aged 14 and 9 wrote longer and more complex novels than the previous years. This year I opted to write songs instead, and though the songs turned out alright, I regret that I didn't shoot for the novel. I missed the structure of the novel writing that NanoWriMo provided, and frankly, November was once again a slightly dark month.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

We enjoyed gathering together after dinner in the weekday evenings, and in the morning during weekends noveling together.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Hard to say - the organization is great. Perhaps it would be nice if the group made it easier to host local events, as we don't live close enough to the bigger cities where those events were already organized.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

How did you find this group?

My daughter's class wrote novels 3 years ago, and we've continued our involvement with it ever since.

What, if any, change in your life has this group encouraged?

I said this last time, but it's still relevant. Writing a novel is hard work, but achieving the goal was well worth the effort, and it helped me to set the bar higher for other aspects of my life. Largely this has impacted my own music writing and performing, but this year it has inspired me to try to give back to the community myself. I've recently joined a new non-profit whose goal is to increase people's opportunities to get involved in the music business. We're organizing classes on song writing and music performance, but also on sound reinforcement, stage production, promotion, and various aspects of the music business. I hope to help this organization become as positive a force in my community as NanoWrimo has been for me.

Role:  Client Served & My daughters wrote novels.
 

Review for The Office of Letters and Light, Berkeley, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I learned about Office of Letters and Light through their program, NanoWriMo which my 12-year-old daughter was doing with her class. As she has discussed being a writer for a long while, I decided to write a novel myself so as to better understand the ups and down of writing a long work of fiction. There are a lot of resources on their website, and my daughter in particular found them very helpful. They also sent out letters of encouragement from various writers throughout the month, and these were great little inspiration boosters.

Though I had done a lot of academic writing, I had never written any extended fiction. It turned out to be a great experience for me. Though at times I thought my novel was lousy, I persevered, and was able to complete my goal. At times the writing was a chore, but more often it was productive work. A few times (about 6), it felt like I was taking notes on a movie - the story unfolded before my mind's eye, and I just wrote it down. I had never experienced anything like that before with writing, and found it exhilarating and very gratifying.

My daughter's experience was similar - and her novel was better! The shared experience was terrific. After dinner, we'd head off to some corner of the house, usually the loft above the stairway, and spend a few hours writing together. We'd often talk about our books as we walked to school in the morning. We'd share thoughts on devices to get our heroes into and out of tight spots, or potential plot twists to make things more interesting. Though we both got less sleep and neglected other aspects of our lives during the month, we relished the time and focus spent writing, as well as the feelings of accomplishment upon finishing.

This year, we committed to NanoWriMo again, and my youngest daughter, 8, joined us. Again, each evening after dinner we'd find some place to hang out and write, and spend a few hours together. My youngest daughter wrote a nearly 6000 word novel about the (mis)adventures of two friends, Porky and Guinevere (a porcupine and skunk). She used to complain about writing for school (when given assignments without prompts), but seemed to get over that with this project. Her story was terrific, and the language and voice she incorporated were at a much higher level than any of the writing she had yet done for school. Near the end of the month, she decided to have one of her main characters move away. She paused from her writing and said aloud, "I'm sad. I'm really sad. They're really going to miss each other!" My wife and I were struck by how involved she had become in her story, and happy to see her experience emotion while writing. It was clearly a deep experience for her. Additionally she took great pride in writing such an extended piece. My eldest daughter and I wrote novels again, and found the experience as rewarding as we did the first time.

In all, we're huge fans of NanoWriMo. This year we're hoping to bring in more involvement from our small town. I've already spoken with the directors of the Council for Arts and Humanities, as well as the folks at the local library. We're going to try to stage town wide events at local coffee houses and the library, and perhaps schedule some live readings of excerpts at the local radio station. There's also been talk about inviting some local authors to come in and conduct workshops a month or two before NanoWriMo comes again this November.

One last thing I'd like to mention is that participating in NanoWriMo taught me I was capable of more than I thought possible. I never thought I'd be able to write a novel, and now I've written two. This new sense of accomplishment helped me recalibrate what I could do with well applied focus and discipline. After NanoWriMo, I set my sights on raising the bar for my guitar playing. I'd always considered myself a "so-so" guitarist, but after having written a novel, I decided that I wanted to become much better. I've since begun studying guitar in earnest, learning vibrato (a difficult, but essential technique for expressive guitar playing), and studying blues and jazz. I've since formed 2 bands and have begun gigging. My life feels enriched, and I owe much of it to my participation in NanoWriMo (and my wife Debbie, for holding down the fort while the rest of the family spent hours writing!).

I recommend participation in NanoWriMo to all of my family and friends, and believe this is a wonderful non-profit organization.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My daughters and I felt a great sense of accomplishment for having written novels. I'm working to extend my experience by helping others learn about and get started writing.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

The second time my daughter wrote a novel for NanoWriMo, we had a hard time getting her school to acknowledge the work she had done. If the organization could present some rubric for schools to examine and verify the work, more schools might engage in it.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

How did you find this group?

A writing teacher in my daughter's middle school.

What, if any, change in your life has this group encouraged?

I've learned to raise the bar for other endeavors, and learned that hard work and focus can yield heretofore unimagined results.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

Role:  Client Served & I wrote a novel along with my daughters.