Friday, November 5, 2010

Finding Something Friday Looks at NaNoWriMo (And That's a Good Thing)

Since November 1st, I've found more than a few articles out there bashing National Novel Writing Month. Participants are wasting their time, writing drivel. Would-be novelists don't want to do the hard revision work-they just want to send out NaNoWriMo-produced 50,000 words to over-worked agents and editors. A non-profit industry has sprung up from the Nano foolishness. Etc. Etc. Etc. And now I feel compelled to say a few words about that...

I'm not sure why it matters to some folks how I, or any NaNoWriMo participant, chooses to spend writing time. Maybe we'd be writing drivel whether we're participating in a novel-writing incentive program or not. Honestly, quite a bit of what ends up on my pages starts out as drivel.

Which leads me to my second point. For me, the hard work of writing does begin with revision. But I can't revise if I don't have words on the page. Banging out a skeleton of a novel is a good starting point. On the other hand, some folks just want to write. Maybe they've got an idea in their head that needs a little fresh air. Maybe they just like a challenge. Maybe they're writing "Mary had a little lamb" over and over and over again. SO WHAT? We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave writers, willing to risk finger cramps and butt flattening to bang out 50,000 words. I don't care what they do with their words. That's their business. I am kinda sorry for agents and editors who may be inundated later with very bad NaNoWriMo prose. But that's what delete buttons are for, right?

And finally, I cannot understand how anyone could complain about an industry, non-profit or otherwise, that supports writing. Last night, when checking out the NaNoWriMo forums, I noticed that lots of the writers in my region were young. I mean, high school and college-aged young. And they're challenging themselves to write 50,000 words? That's AMAZING. When I was college-aged, I challenged myself, too. But um, those contests had nothing to do with words.

So, let the hackers, the would-be-novelists, and the high-school dreamers write their 50,000 (or 5,675 or 37,587) words in peace. And that, as Forrest Gump would say, is "all I have to say about that."