Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NaNoWriMo, You Hurt Me

I was going to try really hard to shut up about NaNoWriMo for October.  I was, because we all know that anything I find time to post on here in November is likely going to be NaNo-related graphs or complaints that I have writer's block.


I was reading Chuck Wendig's 25 Things You Should Know About NaNoWriMo (which you should check out) and came across some text off the NaNo website.  I honestly thought Mr. Wendig was using hyperbole, but I went and looked and it turns out that, in fact, the following is a direct quote from the NaNo in a Nutshell page of the site.

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.
Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.
Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

This hurts me. I mean, I get that it's supposed to be glib, but really.

... laughably awful yet lengthy... Yes, I agree that NaNoWriMo does not inspire the best writing an author can produce, yes, it forces one to rush things a bit  - but even rushed prose should at least attempt to be decent - otherwise what's the point?  If you're planning to write something awful, your time could probably be better spent.  And no, 50,000 words is not lengthy, not when you're talking about novels.

To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. Translation: To give us an excuse to act like pompous douchebags.

...mock real novelists... My issues with this one are twofold.  One, why would you mock anyone who is making a career out of something they love? - and two, who the f--k told you I'm not a real novelist? NaNoWriMo isn't just a waste of a month for me; I actually plan on doing something with what I write during November.  A lot of us do.*

I really do like NaNoWriMo.  I like the basic idea and I'm in awe of the amount of time and effort that the administrative staff put in every year.  The philanthropic aspects of NaNoWriMo are wonderful and so is the sense of community you get from joining hundreds of thousands of writers, all working toward the same goal.

NaNoWriMo's own description of itself really got to me.  I guess I don't like the idea that the same people who make it possible are encouraging people not to care what kind of writing it produces.

Of course I still plan to participate this year, but I'd be lying if I said that a little of the magic hasn't been lost.

*I don't think there's anything wrong with doing NaNo just for fun, but I don't like the assumption that that's the only reason anyone would want to participate.

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