The Writer’s Games, originally the NaNoGames, started out as a fun Facebook competition for writers to challenge themselves, make a few friends and have a good time. I signed up to have a legitimate reason to make sure I was writing, and to distract myself from my real life.
I didn’t know in that moment how much that decision would actually change my real life.
The first year of the Games, I joined a random team, “Team Capslock”, of people who seemed fun, and didn’t take it too seriously. I still have our team banner and our team profile pictures. Our motto was “Failure IS an option!” We ended up coming in first that year, with random stories about Space Princesses, very disturbed and macabre ways that an entire ward of asylum patients could lose their lives, and poems about unicorns. When the team portion of the Games was done, I continued on my friendship with several members of the team, several of whom I still speak to on a regular basis.
One of whom is my soul mate.
Yeah, you read that right. I met my soul mate through these Games. She lives in another country, in another time zone, she has two adorable kids, but she is my soul mate. Actually, as I’m writing this, she is telling me a funny story about one of those kids. She’s going to be my plus one at my best friend's wedding in June, and she’s basically the most incredible, strong, loving and kind person I’ve met.
Along with my soulmate, I also became friends with several other members of the group, including the three girls who make up the Admin Team-Cindy, Robyn, and Theresa- as well as a group called The Beeligion, who consists of myself, my soulmate, our adorable Australian friend, and a quirky and awesome zookeeper in California. These women are my rocks, my support, and I can’t imagine my life without them.
The second year of the Games, I was invited to be an Admin of the group and subsequently, a judge of the Games. What a whirlwind! We basically spend all year talking about and planning the games. All discussion topics and Motivational Monday posts get tied in to the theme of the week! We discuss and argue and plan and work our butts off, for as long as possible, to ensure the Games success. The day the first event went live, I was sitting on my deck, in the sunshine, screaming out loud I was SO HYPED UP. Cindy and Theresa and Robyn and I were losing our minds. We were so excited. That’s when the fun really starts. The reactions of competitors when they see the events is nothing less than Shock and Awe. Then in 72 hours, the fun of reading all the entries sets in and we really click in to what a daunting task it is. Some weeks we had close to 100,000 words to read, and score, and if you’re like me, reread. The winner gets decided, the announcement goes up, we celebrate the victory, and then it’s on to the next event. For 8 weeks. Then we get a break, and do the same thing but this time with the Teams Portion.
It makes for a long summer.
The Second year I was a judge was probably the hardest. The first year I was judging and the second year the games occurred, the Games were my lifeline. I’d broken up with the man I thought I was going to marry, moved back in with my parents, and generally felt like a failure. The Games, and the friends I made through it, were what got my through it. Not so much the second year. On top of dealing with my own health issues, missing three months of my real job because I was laid up with an injury, I also got to watch my stepdad, basically one of the most important people in my life, go through his battle with cancer. On top of that, two days after he had surgery, his mother lost her battle with Non Alzheimer’s Dementia, and after years of suffering, passed on.
No offense to last year’s participants, but it was kind of hard to focus.
Still, Cindy, Theresa, Robyn and the Beeligion, were the best things for me. The Games gave me a lifeline to distract myself with. The girls were always there for me, to get me to work on something that would distract me, to listen to me cry when things got too much for me. They send me flowers to my home address, a gesture they may have forgotten about, but still makes me cry to think about. The Games were my refuge, the stories we received that year were some of the best we’d ever gotten. Some of them STILL ring about in my brain. We also introduced interns that year, to help us read and score and critique entries, and meeting them, interviewing them, and seeing how much fun they had was really cool. Some of them are teachers, some writers, all college students with a love of the written word, and a bit of a knack for making fun of people.
This year, I’ve stepped down as a judge and have had no hand in arranging the Games, and will proudly be back as a competitor, to take on anyone who thinks they can challenge me. I’m trying to get Team Capslock back together, to make a possibly Triumphant return, and to remind myself yet again of what these Games can accomplish.
They give me hope, when I need it. They give me an outlet for my creativity when it feels like no one else in the world cares. I learned and grew as a writer, by being challenged to write and read things I never would have before. Best of all, they gave me the best damn friends I will ever have.
If you’re thinking about participating in the Writer’s Games 2017, I encourage you to do it. Registration closes April 30th. You won’t regret it.
Come play with us!
About the author: Brittany Tucker is an OG at the Games, a founding member of The Writer’s Workout, and a former member of the admin team. You can follow her on Twitter: @RubyTuesday89.