It’s that time again. The epic month of the failed novel. This month, the world will wallow in words. The desk drawers will overflow with confessions of art. Skeletal outlines will crawl from writing closets, and feast on words until they grow plump and ungainly and take their first staggering steps towards the outside world.
Hail the (Inter)National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo amongst friends. This is the month when all the people of the world are encouraged to write the piece of art they’ve tried to dislodge from their brain for all those years, the nagging novel they’ve thought about when pronouncing the immortal words: “Even I write better than her” or even just clarify the indistinct longing they’ve felt in their soul to create something for the future generations’ appreciation. Or maybe write an actually publishable novel, like Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen or Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, both of which began during NaNoWriMo.
I took part last year, and it was a great experience. I won, yoo hoo! (In order to “win”, you have to write 50,000 words towards your novel within November.) That was a great feeling. I loved writing the novel, since it made me feel focused, important and like a real writer. Since no one saw what I was producing, they had no way of knowing how good it was. For all they knew, they might’ve watched the next Virginia Woolf unfold. That was great.
“Sorry, I can’t, I have to concentrate on my Novel.” “The Novel’s been taking up so much time…” or “Would you take the boys out, dear, I need to Write this week-end.” Man, I miss those times.
For me, that was one of the best sides of NaNoWriMo. You get to try out the writing life, whether you’re a writer or not. You have to plan your writing, and not doing it one day will generate serious trouble the next day. You have to create a lot, do it whether you have time or not (and no one has time), do it whether you feel like it or not (ditto), and create some sort of structure around the poor mess that is your idea. Otherwise you’ll never get anywhere. My novel didn’t turn out so great but writing it taught me a lot.
Some people have a problem with NaNoWriMo. They think it isn’t actually a novel you write during that time, since usually a novel is supposed to be at least 60,000 words long. They say that people get the wrong idea of what novel-writing is all about, since all the focus is on pouring out a lot of unedited text, and the editing, which really is the most important part, is not necessary for “winning.” They say that you can’t say you’ve written a novel just because you’ve won NaNoWriMo, since all you’ve really done is word-vomited 50,000 words onto one document within a month. They think it’s the equivalent of saying you won the wine tasting competition because you drank thirty bottles of cheap plonk in one month.
But people, that’s not what NaNoWriMo is all about! It’s about having fun, first and foremost. So unclench your fists. Relax thy brow. The more writing there is in the world, the better. It might be crap writing, but if it is, then you don’t really have to worry about it since it is unlikely to unburden your sensitive eyes by being published.
In the world of self-bullshitting, sorry, self-publishing, some books might get published that don’t really deserve that honor. Let them be created. Step away, and let all the flowers bloom.
Isn’t this world a much better place with all those young people putting their energies into writing, rather than warfare? Shouldn’t we encourage the Taliban to join NaNoWriMo, too? The world would profit, if not by great literature, by happier, more peaceful people since if you participate in NaNoWriMo, you just won’t have the time and energy to wage war anymore.
So let the writing begin. Let people learn. Let there be crap, and let there be joy. Let there be failure, and success, and all the multicolored flowers.
Good luck, y’all! I hope I was writing with you. Maybe next year…
Here’s the link to the official NaNoWriMo site. In case you’ve got a hundred novel-writing hours to spare this month and feel like indulging a little.