Sunday, November 4, 2012

NaNaWriMo (again)

Although I believe that NaNoWriMo (The National Novel Writing Month) is a wonderful event...and although I recommend that any who has ever thought of writing fiction do it..and although I not only did it last year, but eventually finished an entire first draft, I'm not going to participate again this year. I'm still hammering the draft I wrote last November into a shape where I think it may be publishable. I don't want to be distracted by starting a brand new project.

NaNoWriMo, for those who don't know, is, they say, "a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved. In 2011, we had 256,618 participants and 36,843 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists."

Although I've been writing most of my life, I never had a writing experience like last November's NaNoWriMo. I thought it was worse than a job because the only goad was myself. No one cares whether you finish your 50,000 words or not. (You do get to download a nice certificate if you finish). No one cares whether the quality stinks or not (like most first drafts, it tends to). No one cares whether you write every day during your lunch hour or in massive bursts on weekends (but you have to average 1,668 words a day). You do it for yourself, and I'm much tougher on myself than almost any boss (here I'm excluding a couple of sergeants in the Army).

The NaNoWriMo site gives you a place in which you can record your daily progress toward the 50,000, plus all kinds of forums and other aids. There are also local groups to encourage aspiring NaNoWriMos, and, still undecided whether to jump into this river again or note, I went to a local meeting in late October, talked to other writers, and collected a goodie bag, the contents of which is in the picture above. Cocoa and candy for a burst of energy, a tiny notebook in which to make notes, two small figures to sit and make you feel guilty when you're not writing, a post card, two pencils, and exhortations.

I was interested in what the other writers (two of them middle-school students with their teachers) planned to write: paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, romance, zombies, vampires, paranormal fantasy, paranormal  vampire romance. I asked one writer why she was committed to writing fantasy. She said she didn't have to do any research; she could just make it all up. One of the writers has participated in ten November events. He did not make the 50,000-word goal four times, did make it six. He's done nothing about his manuscripts. "I hate to revise."

As I said at the beginning, NaNoWriMo is a wonderful event. Maybe next year.

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