I am in no which way or form attempting to insult the NaNoWriMo initiative. Nor am I trying to make a mockery of those whom participate in it. I am simply taking this opportunity to express my own personal thoughts and sentiments on the matter.
Alright, now that that’s out of the way, I’ll continue with my blog post.
So, I’ve been giving NaNoWriMo lots of thought. And when I say lots of thought, I seriously mean I’ve been thinking about it for years now, ever since I first heard of it.
It was probably about 3 years ago when I first came across the term. On top of the fact that it sounded like some sort of Nanomite invasion, I do have to admit that I was intrigued. What was it that people were pining over? Why didn’t I know of it, and what was it all about? To think that I was missing out on something so momentous made me feel like the new kid in school. So being the ever curious person that I am, I reached out and asked. I really wanted to know.
Without tarry other authors stepped up and took the time to explain to me what the NaNoWriMo initiative was and how it worked. I do, still to this day, appreciate that they took time to explain it to me because I was utterly oblivious.
I don’t like not knowing.
I always want to be in the know. Not that I want to know everything, but I refuse to be ignorant.
That being said, I immediately started pondering the enterprise and how it worked.
Now, I am completely certain that whomever started this undertaking did it with all of the best intentions at heart. What he/she didn’t know was how the world was going to receive it.
It seems like 9 times out of 10 we dreamers come up with something which we intend for good, yet the world misconstrues what we’ve aimed to do and either changes it altogether, or does it all wrong.
That could very well have been the situation here.
NaNoWriMo, for those of you whom do not know what it is, stands for National Novel Writing Month. The person who invented this program established November as the National Novel Writing Month and invited writers from all walks of life to write a full novel of 50,000 words in a month’s time. Along with the program there was also a website designed for the NaNo participants to track their writing progress, as well as some prizes and a few other things. All in all a good package, one would think. How can one not be inspired when one is given all of this support and such?
Unfortunately, in the past years I’ve seen the escalation of writers taking this initiative to the extreme, and mind you, this is not a good thing. So, following I am going to share with your my overall thoughts on why I believe that the NaNoWriMo initiative is not for everyone.
Knowledge is power.
Sharing is caring.
Understanding is key.
Those who know me the best, know me as the individual who stands out from the rest. Why? It’s not because I’m a Diva, Prima Donna, or a famous person, or anything of the sort to be clear. The reason why I usually stand out like a sore thumb is because I refuse to conform. I am who I am, and I do not pretend to be whom I’m not. So, people have one of two choices; love me or hate me. Either way, I’m fine with it.
Maybe being an independent is my downfall. Because, for the most part, I can’t help but see things differently from others. Typically, I’m the one to point out different aspects of a matter that other people may not have noticed. Sometimes it’s like a curse. It’s not that I want to be rebellious, it’s that I want people to open their eyes and see (figuratively speaking of course).
It’s not that I’m a genius. I’d never compare myself to the likes of Albert Einstein, or Socrates, or in this generation Steven Hawking. I don’t even come close.
As the matter of fact, for those of you who don’t really know me, you certainly don’t know that I am dyslexic. While with years of practice I’ve perfected my writing and reading and was even able to accomplish my dream of being a novelist, that still does not take away from that fact that I’ve always had a learning disability.
How’s that for not fitting in?
Anyhow, the more I thought about NaNoWriMo the more it just didn’t make sense to me. And here are my reasons why…
Let’s go back some decades, even a half a century ago (maybe even a bit more)…
Put yourself in L. Frank Baum’s (the author of The Wizard of Oz) shoes. Think of his inspiration to have written such a wonderful work of fiction that thrives even to this day. It was life that inspired him–children. I wonder, did he “challenge” himself to write the entire story in a month? Moreover, I wonder, could he have?
Think now of H. G. Wells (the author of Time Machine among many other fabulous stories). Do you think that he got a sudden rush of adrenaline out of the blue and tapped out that book in 30 days? Likewise, could he have?
NOOO! Of course not!
These world renowned books took years in the making! YEARS!
Maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in me. I like to think that my characters and I have a deep and profound relationship. I believe that they have asked me to write their story. And what good story is worth telling if it’s been given no chance to root itself? None that I know of.
My characters and I have a relationship that was entrenched with time. The best of relationships take time to establish.
I really don’t know how to explain it other than to say that writing takes soul, soul takes time to develop, and without soul you have a shallow, mediocre book.
Personally, it took me 2 years to write MarcoAntonio and Amaryllis. 2 years of my life put into that story. I woke up with them in my head every morning, and lay to sleep with them in my head every night. They whispered their story to me in the middle of the night, sometimes making me get up and write. They made me feel every emotion, smell every scent. I heard their voices as if they were real. The characters in my story became as real to me as you that are reading this post right now.
A relationship like that does not evolve in a month.
And this was just the 2 year “writing” stage, it doesn’t include all the time thereafter of editing and so on. All of that was just the creative side of writing.
Personally, I have to be in the mood to write. I have to be inspired, raptured by a moment of pure enlightening bliss. Otherwise I find myself writing a butt load of incomprehensible trivia that leads nowhere and I wind up deleting later on.
Some would argue and say that you have to “make the time”, but even with “making time” that does not guarantee quality. So sorry, I’m not convinced.
Maybe it’s just me–and it damn well could be–but I want every word that I write in a story to count. And by “count” I mean that they need to be an irrevocable part of the story.
I find that too many times authors become fixated on having to write a certain amount, and when they do that, time and time again, the reader will find that most of what’s written is filler material and not raw literature.
Now let’s get into the other bits.
I’ve known of some people that become infatuated with NaNo. If they don’t make their daily quota, they become intolerable. It’s like suddenly NaNo has become their priority, like their world now revolves around NaNo. The biggest problem is that it’s not even the creative value of it, but the word count aspect.
It’s like these people become invested in meeting a daily word count goal and just can’t see anything else.
Why? I ask you. Why?
Even as a reader, I prefer literary quality as opposed to word quantity.
And quality… OH BOY, DO I HAVE A LOT TO SAY ABOUT THAT!
Call me old fashioned. I know that I am. I always have been, and always will be a big believer in quality over quantity. Many times I feel like I don’t fit in this world we live in today where quantity always wins.
Readers, I read a lot of books. I am part of The Review Board and am known there as Mini Truth. Granted I don’t read nearly as much as my partner in crime Ms. No Labels, but being that I work with her as part of The Review Board, we do a lot of reading. This does not include the books we read on our own time apart from any TRB submissions we get.
I am inclined to say that many of the submissions we get are book by authors whom have been a part of NaNoWriMo. At least a few of them I know for a fact were.
Allow me to side track for just one moment if you will…
Every writer knows that our literary creations are our babies. They mean the world to us, and just like any seed of our own, once they are born we become proud to the point of gloating. We want to show it off to anyone.
Not that there is anything wrong with showing off your “baby” but in the literary world it’s different. I’ll explain why.
When we complete our book, suddenly we find ourselves desperate to show it off. We just want to (excusing my French for a moment) slap a cover on that bitch, and send it to everyone we know, put it up on Amazon, Smashwords or any other retailer that we would use and call it a day.
Sure enough “great reviews” will follow, we convince ourselves. How could they not with this fantabulous work I’ve just produced?
Dare, I say, SLOW YOUR ROLL, Homie…? Don’t jump on that road if you haven’t seen the stop sign yet!
Blinded by the fact that they’ve completed the NaNoWriMo initiative, authors feel a rush of excitement. Exhilaration consumes them. They’ve done it! They wrote an ENTIRE NOVEL in a month! WOOT!
So they slap a cover on that sucker and send him off into the world, convinced that their book is the best mankind has ever read.
Um… Hold on! How about…
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but #NOPE! It’s NOT ready for the world to see. It needs work! LOTS of it!
THIS is the downfall of many a writer.
“Oh look world! Look what NaNo did for me!”
(said in a wispy voice)
They become all dreamy eyed, and wait for the good reviews to pour in like rivers of flowing waters.
Now, back to what I was saying…
Then comes the month of December and places like TRB become bombarded with review requests.
Here is when things get real.
The Review Board (and I as an individual) prides itself in “no hold bared, honest reviews”.
Here is where the whole “quantity vs quality” thing really gets interesting.
So, the NaNo participant is jumping for joy at having written their 50,000 words (or more sometimes) and completed a full length novel. They sent out the book to reviewers, they’ve shoved it off into the world, they are hunky dory and antsy to get the positive feedback they so feel they deserve.
Harsh reality start settling in when reviews start coming back of an unfavorable sort. Reviews that say the book needed more editing work, the book was too wordy, had too many fillers, plot holes, didn’t make sense, was boring, was unoriginal and a vast amount of negative other things.
And the author is like, “WHAT? You didn’t like my work?” devastated, heart broken and angry.
“Uh, well, yeah actually…” says the reviewer, unsure if he/she should feel guilty or proud of being honest.
However, unfortunately, due to the vast amount of mediocre books that have been rushed to be completed, written in no real time at all, and competing with word count, reviewers find themselves besieged by literary crap and feel the need to be straightforward.
Then we find the author feeling melancholy, humiliated and disgraced, all because he/she was in a rush to produce a full novel in one month’s time.
And so, the roller coaster ride never ends.
So, I say all that to say this…
I would never submit my art, which I love so very much, to the likes of NaNoWriMo. You’re welcome to disagree with me, I’m used to it. I care too much about it. I prefer quality over quantity every time. I rather be known as the outcast that has written books that have gone down in history for their valued elements, than a writer who rushed themselves into a literary whole and a bad writing reputation just to meet the status quot.
Call me the NaNoWriMo Heretic.
I’m okay with it, really.