Thursday, November 10, 2011

F*** You, NaNoWriMo

I had a major breakthrough with NaNoWriMo this week--it can go to hell.

It's not that I'm giving up.  I planned to write 60K in 30 days.  It's a doable goal, and I intend to finish it . . . but if for whatever reason, I don't, my life is not over because some twerp in California decided 30 days makes or doesn't make me a novelist.

NaNoWriMo plays on a culture of selfishness--it encourages people, good, normal people, to abandon their families, their pets, their pleasures in life to indulge in a pathetic attempt to create meaning.  These are not real novelists.  A quick glance at the Published page reveals very, very few legitimate authors (and if you've ever read The Night Circus, you can tell it was written in 30 days--maybe less) at legitimate presses--a lot of POD and micro presses. 

No, these are housewives and teenagers, helping themselves to a chunk of time at the beginning of the ultra-busy holiday season to demand This is MY time!!!  I'm a NOVELIST!

Let's face it, Jesse Pinkman
is just a teenage Shane Vendrell

I had two choices the other night after working 2 of my 5 jobs--write 2K in a book I honestly couldn't care less about, or watch Breaking Bad with my darling boyfriend, who I hadn't seen all day, and snuggle my kitten.  I chose Breaking Bad, and not just because Aaron Paul is the flavor of the week.

So I graded some papers and watched Breaking Bad.  Aaron Paul is a hottie.  And Ian was sweet, and Bosco was cuddly, and when I am on my deathbed, I doubt I'll be saying "I wish I'd spent more time in my office working."

It's admirable that NaNoWriMo people want to write.  I'm glad it's helping me get back in the daily routine.  Maybe it will remind me to update this blog a little more.  But in the end, you have to ask yourself why you're really doing it.  Is it to feel special, to accomplish something, to escape your miserable life?

Writing can be enjoyable.  It doesn't have to be a coffee-swilling, hair-pulling, cat-ignoring frenzy.  But a story needs more than 30 days to unfold.  I have an outline and I'm still discovering new things about my characters (like that the mother in this book is the same Virginia Davenport that protagonist Oren Barry fantasizes about in the other novel).  The "No Plot, No Problem!" slogan is a recipe for frustration and disaster.

Why only be a novelist in November?  Instead of chaining yourself to the desk while you could be eating cranberry sauce with your kids, why not write 1K a day over two months?  Or give yourself Sundays off and take a walk.  Don't give Chris Baty another moment of your precious time. 


  1. I don't think that ALL stories need over a month to unfold. Michael Moorcock (sci-fi author) apparently would write books in a week or two, in his heyday, when he was writing for food. Some of them are now (at least according to some) sci-fi classics.

  2. Exactly--the point is that some stories need more time, some stories need less . . . but that's for the author (or the bill collectors) to decided. . . not some dope like Chris Baty to lay down as law and declare those who don't to be losers.