|I'll probably finish this story|
Na = National
No = Novel
Mo = Month
It happens every November. Multi-thousands of writers, pseudo-writers, hobby writers and never-before writers commit to concentrated effort to produce a 50,000 word novel entirely within the month. That's an average of 1,666.67words per day, or if you figure by page count at 250 words per page, 6.67 pages a day. Doesn't seem like much on the surface, but after the first few pages or week, your brain starts bogging down and it gets just plain hard. A pretty fair number of them succeed.
And whats the reward? You completed a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. You get a funny looking icon you can put on your website. And if you didn't resort to too much gibberish or pasting all your emails into the document, you do have something you might, with great effort be able to revise into a real novel.
In other words, bragging rights. And words on paper/screen.
|Or maybe this one|
The odd thing about it is, that's just exactly what most writers need now and then. It's kind of a crazy anonymous push in the behind that we pretend is real that gets us motivated. There's a whole world of people out there who thing writers just sit down and type and stories flow from them like water over Niagara Falls. They think we have it easy. We just sit there and type out our fantasies. In fact, somebody collected statistics once that showed 82% of the American adult population thinks they want to write a novel. And they believe they could do it better than most of the professional novelists out there. They just haven't had time yet.
Well, they can't. Unless they actually sit down and do what it takes. Those same stats show that of that 82%, less than 2% actually sit down and start a novel, in their entire lives. And of those, less than 1% complete it. Just imagine, then, how few of those go on to make writing novels a part-time or full-time career. Because writing a novel isn't a breeze. It's exceptionally hard work. And writing a good, sellable novel is even harder.
Most people do have great day dreams and fantasies. But those rarely make good novels because they lack dynamism. They're like strings of still photos, not the forward motion of action leading to consequence, evaluation leading to new action, etc. And the writing itself is something new writers think they can do, but often the clarity of their ideas doesn't make it from their brain to the paper. They see what's missing but the reader doesn't. These new writers are the apprentices, the interns, in a field where the journeymen and masters are still learning their craft, still exploring new challenges, still experience failure of their experiments throughout their careers. The process never stops.
|This one's ready to start|
What does this have to do with NaNoWriMo? NaNo is really set up for the amateur writer, so why would very experienced writers try to shoe-horn themselves into it? Well, like I said, it's hard, and often very discouraging. As one agent said, "In this field, rejection is the norm". An editor once told me she has piles of manuscripts sitting on her desk at any given time (now those piles are likely to be in her computer, but there are more of them), and she feels lucky if she finds even one manuscript with potential. She estimated she buys 1 in 600 that come across her desk. Those are really bad odds for writers. Often the stories we love the most are the ones we can't sell. We have winning streaks, then suddenly can't sell anything for years. Publishers stop buying exactly what we've just finished and mailed off to them the day it hits their desk. We have to be tough, and we are not. We're not supposed to take it all personally, but what is merely a paper manuscript to a publisher is our soul imprinted on paper. We're reduced to numbers, genres, and it's hard on us.
|And follow with this one|
|Too bad there's no time for this one|
So this year, in just a few more days, I will begin my own NaNoWriMo, doing it my way. I still haven't decided which book to finish- I could choose from two. Or I could pick one or two of my novellas that I have plotted out and pitch myself in that direction. And I will do my best to make my own goal of 1700-2000 words every day. I'll have dirty hair, unmade beds, lunch of cheese and crackers-- whatever it takes. I'll still feed the cats and kiss hubby, and get birthday presents off to all the November grandkids,all that stuff, sure. But mostly, I'll be a writing demon for 30 days of the year.
Part of me thinks it's too bad there's not more than one November in a year. The other part thinks, "Who are you kidding?"