I’m sure plenty of you have heard of, and maybe even are participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo event. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and the project encourages writers to spend one month writing a 50,000-word piece of fiction.

I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year.

Sort of.

The thing is, I don’t write fiction. I’ve tried. It’s terrible. Plus, it’s weirdly more personal than the truth. Nonfiction is just me re-telling you embarrassing shit I’ve done so you don’t hear it from someone else first, whereas fiction exposes fantasies. That is some jelly I do not think you are ready for.

So I’m going to tell you 30 stories in 30 days. And I don’t know if all of these stories will be good. Some of them are going to stretch the definition of stories (“bunch of dick/fart jokes” is on my list of potential story topics). But there will definitely be 30 of them and they will definitely be posted daily.

Starting… NOW.


Portrait of the Filmmaker as a Young Lady

The first film I ever made was a 15 second stop-motion animated film called The Kooky Circus. I have never seen it.

I was in the fourth grade, living in Omaha, Nebraska and I participated in one of those “gifted and talented” programs called Challenge. Once a month I’d get out of class for a few hours to work on brain teasers and special projects and one month we learned about stop-motion animation. Our teacher set up a camera and we each got to make our own film.

I don’t know how particularly “gifted” I was, but I had a special talent for slacking off on special projects. When it came time to write a script I found a toy elephant and a toy giraffe and decided that it would be really easy to move them around in a “kooky” manner. I think I looked around for a toy monkey and I think I eventually proceeded without one. (You guys, they’re called “motion pictures,” not “motion great ideas.”)

I did put some extra effort into the title sequence, cutting out each letter in the title from a different color of construction paper and making them all swirl around the screen as they entered the frame. In fact, the title sequence is where I spent 90% of my time and effort. After that I made a toy elephant do a backflip and a toy giraffe dance around erratically for a fraction of a second. And… fin.

“Good film! All of the thumbs up!” –Critics

A month later our teacher set up a little premiere event for all of us in the group and I waited patiently to see my finished film. When I finally spied the first glimpse of my jaggedy construction paper letters flying across the screen I blushed, giggled, and covered my face with my hands in a very “Ohmygod, you guys! I’m sooo embarassed!” gesture, which was less cute than it sounds and kind of silly and unnecessary.

When I stopped giggling I looked up and my movie was over. The filmstrip had moved on, without fanfare, to the next student’s film and I sat, mortified, knowing that I had missed my chance to see how it all turned out. Would the elephant complete that backflip? Would the giraffe’s dance be delightful? I never found out. And I never will.

I have spent the last 30 years reprimanding the giggly, silly little girl inside. That film might have been kooky, and it might have been lazy, but it has had a profound effect on me. It’s made me realize how much I regret letting fear make me miss out on something fun.

One down, 29 to go.


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Founder and editor of online magazine Kittenpants, producer for stage and screen, former writer for the Comedy Central Insider, quoted in both Maxim and Jane: DARCI RATLIFF can do it all, and does do it all (on or before the third date). Buy her book, If I Did It at kittenpants.com.

6 responses to “30 Stories in 30 Days: Day 1”

  1. Karl says:

    This is going to be a great month!

  2. Hey, I am doing mine too this month! Mine is a war novel about white blood cells fighting bacteria, germs and other diseases. *squeals and giggles*

  3. New Orleans Lady says:

    Such a fantastic idea! I’m looking forward to all of your posts this month as I’m sure they will be fabulous. And very intereting. Good luck!

    I’m impressed that you made an animated film in the fourth grade. There is no way fourth grade me would have been able to do something like that. Also, fear or fear of failure, has kept me from doing more than I’d like to admit. Maybe it’s time I find my own way to shake that feeling. Ah, who am I kidding?

    Anyway, I can’t wait to read all your posts. Going to 2 and 3 now.


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