In 2012, I was struggling to find my footing. I had moved back to California after a very disappointing work experience in France that left me deflated in every way possible. I was working, but it certainly wasn’t a dream job, and I was still figuring out how to rebuild a life somewhere I hadn’t lived since high school.

Discouraged after my Bachelor’s in Creative Writing (for many reasons, which I won’t get into here), I hadn’t written in a long while. I had heard about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) previously, but I’d never thought to add it to my whirlwind schedule, nor had I thought a novel was something I could write—not since a failed attempt, also in high school.

But there I was, back where I had been the last time I’d considered it possible—at least geographically. Someone mentioned NaNoWriMo to me around the same time that an idea for a story cropped up and wouldn’t let me go. Plus, to be honest, I needed a way to meet people since working from …