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Friday, November 12, 2010

Late to the party

So, since about every other writer I know has already posted about this, I figure I will offer my late, but no less sincere, thoughts on National Novel Writing Month. As a writer, and one that feels writing definitely could use a higher profile among this country's cultural products, I couldn't be happier that there is an organization out there promoting the most writerly of feats, the novel. As a person who has actually completed a novel, though, I can't help but feel NaNoWriMo's stated objective of 50K words in a month is perhaps a little on the disingenuous side. To put it bluntly, there is practically no way in Hades that a person with a full time job, a family, and a life outside of work, family, and writing could possibly write 50K words of quality fiction in a 30 day period. To break it down, that means this writer would need to write about 1600 words a day everyday for a month. If this writer has never attempted a novel before, or written multiple short stories, this is an enormously daunting task to subject a relative day tripper to. My over-arching fear in too many people joining in with NaNoWriMo is that what will end up happening is, rather than a bunch of great, life-changing novels getting written/started, we will instead have an army of frustrated, hopeless novel-haters, who will point to November, 2010 as the month they realized they could never be writers and that they are failures at life.

So, I ask what is the true purpose of NaNoWriMO? I think that NaNoWriMo is actually a nefarious plot by under appreciated, and devious novel writers who wish to make the general populace more appreciative of their (the devious novel writers') toils. It is true that writing a novel is a massive, complicated, nerve-destroying process that rarely takes less than three months, and usually takes years or decades. Writers put huge swaths of their souls into novels, they sell their futures, their pasts, their relationships in service of this one story that, if told correctly could alter their fortunes, but probably will still just sit in a drawer, or in a file folder on their desktop. Novels are mystical puzzles that only the very talented and the very lucky truly figure out. They are fever-dreams that represent everything that an author is, her paranoias and frustrations, her observations, her memories. Novels are the summation of everything an author has ever experienced, seen, thought, or been. Novels are all.

So, it seems a bit precocious to fill the minds of relative newbies with a lot of claptrap about getting a good start on this life-altering cancerous growth by writing a lot in this one month. So, this brings me back to the idea that the creators of this iron maiden of a plan are in actuality hoping to get as many people as possible to join up so that all these people will fail, and by doing so will realize how truly amazing an achievement actually finishing a novel is. By telling everyone they can write a 50K novel in a month, they are practically setting every one of these peeps up for a frustrated, agonizing 30 days, in which they spend every day worrying constantly about not writing enough. It's like a fad diet, but with words instead of calories. And in the end, these devious writers will look really cool at dinner parties.

Now, some of you may say, "Tres, aren't you taking this a bit seriously?" To which I would reply, "Of course I'm taking it too seriously. That's what I do. Have you been reading this blog?" Then some of you may say, "But Tres on the NaNoWriMo website it pretty clearly states that the goal of writing a 50K word novel is unrealistic and the whole purpose is to simply get non-writers with writer dreams to get the ball rolling and start the hard work toward achieving their dreams, and furthermore they provide a crap ton more links and hints for getting passed the major roadblocks writers face than your blog does. So why, Tres, why are you a killer of dreams?" To which I would reply, "Because I'm 40K words into writing a monster of a novel of my own and I'm jealous as hell of anyone who can actually complete a novel by the end of this month, because strait-up I want this story out of me asap before it strangles me to death. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it." To which you would probably reply, "Dude, chill." And you'd be right.

All joking aside, peeps, NaNoWriMo is really really really cool and several of my fav authors are taking the challenge. Like her and her, for instance. I myself am not participating in any meaningful sense merely because I am elbow-deep in a novel which I can neither quit to start something else, or finish reasonably within a month. I feel very good about this novel; it makes me happy in ways nothing I've written before has done, though the subject matter is very sad. I'm writing a novel about God and the ways in which His broken creations relate to Him. There are angels and demons and drunks and whores in this novel. None of them are very happy, and yet I think there will be a happy ending. Happy, of course, is a relative term. I think this novel is neo-sentamentalist. I hope to finish it before this time next year.

To all of you who have thrown down the gauntlet, I salute you. You are brave. I believe in you. Enjoy every minute of this horrible journey.

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