I’m not looking forward to November, a lot of untalented hacks who should be doing other things (masturbating to pornography they found on the internet, for example) will be attempting to turn their hands to writing crappy novels as fast as possible.
I only mention this because I’ve actually been working on a few books (one weird-fiction, one SF, and one vanity non-fiction), off and on, for a couple of years, and I’m really happy with my slow, meticulous, loving, progress. And I think that NaNoWriMo actually cheapens the process taken by, for want of a better term, "real writers."
That’s not to say that I think writing is in any way restricted to any sort of elite few or anything like that, I just think that if you want to write, you should write, not wait for some stupid competition and then write just to reach some artificial wordcount, updating your progress daily, and frankly wasting your time ‘cos no one. in. the. world. needs another goth-vampire-faerie tale. Or story about a writer who can’t think of a real story to write, so writes a story about a writer who can’t think of a story to write. If you can’t think of a story to write, don’t. fucking. write.
Has anyone ever tried to read anything written for NaNoWriMo? These people are just going for wordcount, and it’s horrible.
So if you’re an untalented hack desperate to prove you’re more creative than you actually are, go for it!
And remember, I’m the boss of the world, and you’re just a dick with a keyboard.
5 thoughts on “Writerly things.”
Having written two (and a quarter) NaNovels, it was a good experience for me because it was the realisation that, hey, I can do it and what I did wasn’t entirely rubbish.
But looking at the NaNo forums over the past few Novembers, they are usually filled with people who are slaving over the intricate details of their goth-vampire-faerie tales. (“Help!!!! I need a name for my main character’s love interest!!!! It has to be an authentic magick faerie name or I won’t be able to write anymore!!!!!)
While there is a certain kind of punk pleasure involved in banging out 50,000 words and seeing what comes out, I do have respect for someone who can craft a novel over time. That takes skill and talent.
To be honest, so far I’m not confident about talent or skill, only dogged persistance.
I’m going to go off on a rambling and seemingly endless series of lies and half truths in a second, but let me start with a single piece of honesty – a few weeks ago I was browsing through some of my stories from the last few years, and I started reading one, and hand-to-my-heart, it was so unexpectedly awesome that for a second I thought I had accidentally opened up a previously unknown Mark Twain or J. D. Salinger, you know, the one where they wrote about a vast futuristic war between the remnants of the former American Empire and China++.
Trouble is, that one wasn’t finished, and I have no recollection of how I meant things to go, and my outline only went about as far as I wrote anyway. (Only a page or two, but bloody good pages, let me tell you.)
As a wise man once said, the braying and neighing of barnyard animals follows…
Now, on with the lies, and let me say, one of my stories is so completely awesomely-kick-ass no one who reads it will ever be the same again. And when they reach the last page they’ll gnash their teeth and wail, then read it again and again, begging me for a sequel. But it’s really difficult to maintain kick-ass-awesomeliness for hundreds of pages, even for someone as naturally kickerly-awesome-assingnesserous as me, so I don’t know about there being a sequel, but perhaps I can pull a Tom Clancy and have someone else actually write all the sequels:
by Morgan Nichol
(and Stephen King)
with a foreword by Scooter Libby
My non-fiction one is the least cool, and the most egotistical. It has demonstrated to me that even if you’re astonishingly intelligent, no one is fooled if you try to box above your weight. This book will suck. No one will publish it, and virtually no one will read it. Not even my own mother will finish it. Only people who completely agree with me on everything will even slightly like it (mental defectives and uninformed reactionaries).
My SF one (I’ve actually got several) will probably be pared back to a long short story, I’ll post a short excerpt on my awesomely popular website, and publishers will be beating down my door to be the first to put the whole thing in print. There’ll be such an outpouring of love for my awesome story, and a new fan base will spontaneously form around it, I’ll then be the carcas in a massive feeding frenzy of publishers, and will go on to do to SF what that bloody house-wife did to Fantasy. (Incidentally, becoming astonishingly wealthy. But I’m just in it for my art. Honest.)
Back to honesty.
I was being self-deprecating before when I implied that I don’t have talent by the cubic meter. Unfortunately, I also have a problem with perfectionism. And fear of being so far ahead of my time that people think my work isn’t utterly mind exploding.
One worthwhile counter-argument to the gibberish indictment you offered on MeTa: you expect people to improve as writers by not writing a couple thousand words a day on a regular basis? Isn’t November as good a time to start as any?
I don’t see writing as anything so sacrosant that people oughtn’t just give it a shot, and I think NaNoWriMo serves the purpose of getting some people to finally try and figure out very earnestly if they even like writing all that much. Sure, you’ve got a lot of fantasy/werewolf/spaceopera nonsense being churned out, but (a) that’s generally from the people enthusiastic about that sort of thing in the first place and (b) a few of those actually turn out okay. And in the mean time Joe Schlub actually takes an honest stab at knocking out some words, and maybe takes from the whole endeavor a newfound respect for the art of non-hurried, non-panicked writing. (Or a newfound rejection of the notion that he should be writing in the first place.)
So far as I can tell, the only damage done by NaNoWriMo is to the egos of the more sensitive among the “real” writiers. Surely a bunch of crap churned out by amateurs during November will do nothing less than vindicate the dedicated year-round efforts of talented and serious writers, and in the mean time said amateurs are actually enjoying and in some cases educating themselves.
Cortex, I agree with practically everything you say.
The truth is I didn’t plan this post to look the way it does, what I really meant to say was “I’ve been working on a few books, I’m hoping for one of them to be finished soon, but it has nothing to do with NaNoWriMo, so please don’t think it took just a month to put together.”
Instead of being straight-up (and breaking the habit of a lifetime,) I went off on that stream of false invective.
I’ve since decided to embrace NaNoWriMo – using the ridiculous title I came up with above as a jumping off point. And I’m kind of enjoying it.
Rock! Speaking from personal experience, November is a great time to pour streams of false invectives into your narratives.
And hey, if you sass and generalize and dismiss things out-of-hand on your blog, what’s a blog good for, anyway? Thanks for letting me be such a contrarian bastard, and, more so, thanks for being so civil in response.
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