Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nanowrimo, or how I will never write a novel in one month

Nanowrimo is one of those buzzwords I hear every year. I'm not sure when it was exactly that the nation decided as a whole it needed a month dedicated to writing novels, but by this point, it's a fairly common term that anyone with a net connection understands. In fact, one of my close friends in college was a Nano diehard. She committed, she wrote, and she completed. It was all very impressive from the vantage point of my 20-year-old self, trying like mad to finish my thesis for my BA in Creative Writing. I couldn't fathom how anyone could pump out a decent novel in a month when I had a hard time getting a chapter done in that same amount of time.

This is my gripe with Nanowrimo, because the answer to that question (How can anyone pump out a decent novel in a month?) is "They can't."

The process of writing a novel takes time, not only to prewrite, write, and revise, but also just the sheer need to gather information and experiences out of life. The act of writing, at least in my mind, is the practice by which the experiences that the writer lives, reads about, and sees happen to others is melded together in the brain and then extracted by osmosis from the writer's fingertips. There is value in writing every day, but there is also value is sitting with an idea and working through it without ever bringing thought to paper. Some of my best paragraphs were mulled over several weeks while I worked over the nuances, the hidden agendas, the interpretations. Not all of writing happens on the page, so rushing through for a deadline so loomingly close is only going to produce what all procrastination produces: something that, though it might even have merit and good ideas, is not going to fulfill the potential for what it could have been if someone had taken more time and care to produce it.

I'm not going to say Nanowrimo is evil or that no one should do it. If that's how you get your kicks or motivation, feel free, but realize that most of the high-quality writing existing in our world today is the labor of years, not days. If you really want to work on your craft and become a novelist, don't expect to get far if you cram all your writing time into one month of the year. Writing is every day of the year. It's what occupies the mind of a writer while s/he iswaiting for a green light during the morning commute. It is what happens when a writer considers the connection between a newscast from when s/he was twelve and the old man holding a political sign on the corner last tuesday and discovers a book hidden there.

I considered taking the nanowrimo leap this year, but the ridiculousness of it hit me full on. That's not the way I want to write my next novel, all rushed and sloppy-sentenced. For those dedicated every- month-of-the-year writers, I propose this. Let the amateurs have their novel-in-a-month fun and we'll continue working at our same dogged pace and finish our masterpeices in our own good time.

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