Thursday, October 27, 2011

NaNoWriMo: The Nathan Rabin of Book Writing

The last time I did National Novel Writing Month was my senior year of college--and after about a week, I got bored and moved on to something more interesting.  I "won" (completed 50K) in 2003 and 2002 (yipee) but decided that I was finally past the realm of part-time writer and onto bigger and better things.

Well, the other night I had a cool dream, and I plotted that dream out to novel-length--YA novel length, to be exact.  And with a million other things going on, I realized that NaNoWriMo might be a good way to partition out some time to focus solely on finishing this book.  YA novels generally clock in around 60K, which is only 2K a day, 500 over the usual NaNoWriMo haul.  I'm a workaholic, so the only way I can allow myself to do anything I'm interested in is if I lable it work.  I need goals and limitations, otherwise I use what little idle time I have watching MST3K.  By structuring myself into to 30-day limitations, I have to go hard or go home.  But while persusing around the website, I noticed two things:

1) Like most people who post on forums, the NaNoWriMo forum goons take themselves WAY too seriously.  Heaven forbid you write down a note that you might use later (and possibly word for word!  oh my!) in your novel.  I get it, we're supposed to write a whole novel just in that one month, but that brings me to my next point

2) NaNoWriMo hates working writers.  Camp NaNoWriMo boasts as one of their objectives, "To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work."

Fuck you, NaNoWriMo.
I apologize on behalf of all those asshole "writers" out there who dare labor over their work, polishing it to perfection and submitting it, often times to multiple rejections and, if they're lucky, to rewrites by editors and agents towards publication, because you're better than them.  You wrote a novel.  You jacked off 50K of bad spelling, plot holes, over-wrought prose, cliches and tripe over a 30 day period and that makes you special.  I apologize to all the "auto mechanics, out-of-work-actors and middle school English teachers"  who are so offended by the works between hard and paper covers in their libraries and bookstores.  I apologize on behalf of Raymond Chandler, John Steinbeck, Dorothy Allison, Jane Austin, Mary Shelley, Alexander Dumas, Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum. Roald Dahl, George Orwell, Flannery O'Conner, Michael J. Nelson, Jim Kelly, Mike Kimball, and all those other jerks who dared to waste time on their craft.
When did sub-par become admirable?  I get it, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to practice writing without tearing down, but sneering at and spitting upon working writers who struggled to get recognition is a dick move.  It manifests that continued theory among artists that if you have to work for something, you're not a genius, as though some magical fairy exists solely to dig through people's desk drawers and pull out manuscripts deemed worthy of admiration.  It's Rabin-esq, and it's wrong on all fronts.
I'm kind of sorry I signed up for it, honestly.  As one of those criminal professional writers who takes herself and her career seriously, I don't know if I want to be lumped in with a bunch of bitter housewives and teen girls in Twilight tee-shirts.  I don't want to comiserate about what a hardship it is because I live that hardship every day.  Writers block blows, but I don't get the luxury of logging onto a forum and bitching--I have until 3pm on Tuesday to get a story done, and if I don't, there's a big gaping hole in the Hometown Oneonta where it would go.  I labor over essays short stories that get rejected time and time again.  But I love it, and that's why I keep doing it.  And I will keep doing it long past November.  I was doing it long before November. 
Writers stock our bookshelves.  They make our TV shows interesting.  They fill our newspapers and our magazines with more than just ads.  How about giving them a little credit, NaNoWriMo, instead of ripping them to shreds?


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