Sophomore Writer Joins in National Challenge

Something’s in the mist for this young writer

Sophomore Writer Joins in National Challenge

Olivia Gallmeyer, Staff Writer

For many people, writing fifty thousand words in a month is a nightmare so impossible it’s unfathomable to think about. But for sophomore Mary Hilker and 400,000 budding writers across the globe last November, it’s a dream to be achieved.

National Novel Writing Month is a challenge first established in 1999 for people to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Celebrating 16 years of fostering creativity and building a worldwide life for writing, the NaNoWriMo program has spawned many well-known published books including Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

One NaNoWriMo creation from this year is Mary Hilker’s Something in the Mist, a science fiction tale set in the 31st century. “I was really influenced especially by the TV series Firefly, but I got inspiration from a bunch of different stories around me to find ideas. Inspiration can be anywhere for me–during school, the middle of the night, when I’m already writing something… That’s why I always get so distracted,” she laughs.

Something in the Mist centers around a post-apocalyptic future, in which a plague has broken out on Earth and humanity has retreated to underground ocean bunkers. Hilker’s heroine, Wren, longs to experience the living that she never remembered when on the surface, and yearns to discover the countless galaxies and infinite civilizations scattered through the universe, where the only way to go is to take to the skies.

Young writers under the age of 18 have the option of joining the Young Writers Program, where participants have the option of choosing a word goal more accessible for them. Hilker, though, took on the full 50,000 word challenge for the third year.  “My first year I honestly failed horribly- I started a week late, and switched to a completely different novel halfway through. I only made it to 14,000 that year… But last year I finished, and this year I’m happy to say I did too!”

“I like to write because it’s a way that I can express myself, and explore the lives of others,” Hilker said. “I’ve always been a storyteller, even as a kid. But I used to never actually finish any writing project before. I would get 3,000, maybe 5,000 words written on a certain story, and I would give up on it or start working on something else. But NaNoWriMo’s like a challenge to myself, to stay committed and keep working.”

As an avid reader and Crozet Library volunteer, Mary’s a lover of stories in all forms, whether reading others or spreading her own. “Realistically my writing will probably just sit in my attic for the next twenty years. But still, I can’t help but love seeing the way a novel forms under my hands, and I’d love to someday publish it and see it reach the hands of many others.”