NaNo? NoNo!

Sometimes I wonder if people expect a writer to just drop what they’re doing and participate in NaNoWriMo. I really have some mixed feelings about the whole idea.

Can someone write a novel in a month? You bet! Can they write something worth publishing? Sure can! It’s totally doable. Pretty tough, but doable. I think a lot of people have toyed with the idea a time or two. Many people have some sort of story they want to share, but I think most people find excuses not to. That’s not to say there aren’t valid excuses. Plenty of good reasons not to do it. One of which being that you just don’t want to. don’t want to do it.

Sometimes I worry that the whole event gives people false hope. I know that sounds harsh, but we have a bad habit of telling people they can do anything or be anything they want to so long as they work hard at it. And sometimes it feels like people push NaNo as some sort of jump start to fame and fortune that you would be ludicrous to pass up. Like writing a book means you’ll be rich and famous. Sometimes people just aren’t cut out for certain things and we shouldn’t shame them if they don’t feel like wasting their time finding this out. I mean, I guess it’s cool for people who have no desire to be a writer just so they can say, “I wrote a book!” That’s a pretty great feeling. A wonderful sense of accomplishment.

I think there are people out there who get the idea that slamming out 50 thousand words in a month means they’re done and they’ll get published and make a fortune. People neglect to mention to them that the easy part is writing your first draft. That’s simple and safe. What they don’t hear is that in order to get published, you have about ten times more work to do after that first draft and putting in that extra work is no guarantee.

I suppose I sound like I’m ranting about it. Maybe I am, but I really do think NaNoWriMo is a good thing. It gets people using words again. Written words. Something most of us lose when we leave school. It gets people to think. Gets people to build some discipline and use their imaginations a bit. And probably the best part is that it fosters a sense of community among the people participating. You never know what kind of friends you might make when you get involved and share your progress with people. There’s a lot of camaraderie and encouragement to be found in that crowd.

I’m skipping it because I don’t want my feet held to the fire just for the hell of it. And because I’m balls deep in revising a novel at the moment. I think I have a good reason there. I’m making my pages bleed with red ink and attempting to exercise fearlessness in cutting out the rotten parts of my writing. I’m learning to admit that a first draft is not the end and the work just gets tougher. People who get a book deal from a rough draft are few and far between.

I wrote the first draft in about six weeks. Could I have done it faster? Most definitely, but I have a feeling that if I had held myself to the time limit of NaNo, I might have missed the mark and given up. I know myself.

I’ll probably “conveniently” have something else to work on next year too…

-W R

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