I don’t usually write posts ranting about things I’ve read. That’s something better left to others. I don’t like to tear people down, it just isn’t my style. That being said, I read an article this morning and it has been running through my mind all day. I now feel compelled to comment in some way. Some of you may have read it, but I’m not going to state the name of the article, the publication it was in, or even the person’s name who wrote it. I can’t even remember his name, and I’m not going to go back to article to find out. I am also positively certain that he does not care one iota about my opinion on his article, so no harm in not naming names, right?
November is National Novel Writing Month. Lots of people participate in a month long writing endeavor to basically complete (or at least get 50,000 words of) a novel in a month. I think it’s pretty cool. About700,000 other people think its pretty cool, too, because that is roughly the number of participants. Now this article was written by someone who is not a fan on NaNoWriMo, as it is affectionately called. To care nothing for it, they certainly had no problem writing an entire snarky article about it. I won’t go into detail, or quote the article, but in a nutshell, he put down those who participated, stating that sooo many people believed they had a novel in them, and this friendly competition was a way for people who were otherwise preschool teachers and waitresses to brag about the fact that they were writing a book. He obviously felt that anything produced by a participant would be pure drivel. He felt that if you were going to write a novel, just shut up about it and write it.
Okay. Everyone has their opinion, and if you aren’t a fan of NaNo, then that is your right and is fine by me. If you don’t want to hear about it, then don’t associate with participants. What struck me about this article though, is not that it sounded like he was saying, if you want to write a novel then put in the hard work and do so, but that he was saying if you bought into the hubbub of NaNo, then it automatically meant you were an inferior species of writer. I’m a waitress. Does that mean I cannot also be a writer? I wondered why he mentioned anyone’s career. Just because some of us can’t afford to write full time, does that mean we are less of a writer than those who can devote their day to it? I don’t think so. Sure, I write lots of drivel. Sure, there are writers out there far better than I will ever be. Does that mean I should give up? Does that mean I shouldn’t even try? I’m not even sure WHAT this guy was saying.
What struck me about the article was the tone of bitterness and overall bad ju-ju. I don’t know about you guys, but most of the writers I’ve met are wonderfully kind souls. They support one another, they cheer one another on. I don’t see why anyone has to be so superior. Sure, we all have read books by authors that seem like the person that wrote it just hopped out of bed one day and decided to write a book. To heck with research and fact checking, it all works out in the wash. Yeah, we’ve all seen those. But how dare a person ASSUME that everyone who participates in NaNo is such a writer? What about fun? What about camaraderie? What about belonging to something bigger than yourself and writing for the pure joy of seeing the words hit the page with a satisfying splat? I thought NaNo was about the resplendent happiness of writing. What difference does it make if you are a beginner or a seasoned writer? If anyone is serious about writing then they already know that research is crucial, fact checking is non negotiable, and writing, re-writing, editing and cutting and editing some more are what it’s all about. Anyone who cares about their craft knows the first draft is shit. I think it’s a bit hard to get to the second draft, however, if you don’t write the first draft.
For many, that first draft comes during NaNo. Maybe that first draft will never become anything that sees the light of day. Maybe that first draft gives the serious writer something to work with. Either way, if you love writing and find NaNo fun and rewarding for you, then what’s the big deal? Why not enjoy it? I’ve only done NaNo once, and loved it. I won’t let someone make me feel childish or less than a writer because of it. I plan to participate again this year. NaNo is what helped me learn how to silence the perfectionist the first draft and get the story down. NaNo helped me set word count goals and helped me become disciplined enough to work for them. Was what I wrote during NaNo this hallowed manuscript delivered directly by angels to my desk? Um..no. It was messy, chaotic, riddled with mistakes and trite prose. It was confusing, had scenes that didn’t work and characters that were flat. What it was, however, was a complete idea from beginning to end. It was everything my characters said to me, all their hopes, their dreams and their fears. It was after NaNo was over that I first gave the manuscript a rest, and then set about the task of making it right. Without the work I put into NaNo, I would not have had a manuscript to work with. I would still be poring over the first paragraph, trying to make it perfect before moving on.
I’m just saying that there is enough negativity and bitterness in this world already. If you don’t like something, then don’t participate. If you don’t care, then why do you spend your time writing an article about how much you don’t care? (an article with typos and grammatical errors, I may add.) And yes, I know my blog posts are not error free. I know they are not grammatically correct. I like them that way. My blog is mine, and it’s a place for us to chat. I don’t have to be perfect here.
As a waitress AND a writer, I choose to be supportive and positive of my fellow writers, bloggers, waitresses and preschool teachers. If you want to write, then do so. If you aren’t any good at it, then take the time to learn. Practice what you aren’t good at and seek help from others. Don’t take shortcuts, don’t try to cheat your readers, and be serious about your craft. If you enjoy the crazy, friendly chaos that is NaNoWriMo, then go for it; without guilt or letting anyone spoil the fun. If you aren’t into it, then sit quietly, write your novel and leave the 700,000 of us that want to have some fun this November alone. (BTW the article named 300,000 as the number of participants. Outdated info ya think?)