Saturday, November 09, 2002

A NaNoWriMo Post

Okay, I've got to get this out of my system.

Some people either:

a) Take writing way too seriously
b) Have no sense of humor
c) All of the above

The following is the post I made at NaNoWriMo after reading the article I've linked above.

I've met Alma's kind many times. She's a member of the 'I've suffered for my art, and now it's your turn' group. They're the people who think that if you're having fun, it can't possibly be work, and if it's not work, it can't possibly be good.

A person who has fun at NaNo can't possibly ever be a real writer. And my, if we're laughing and having fun, we're obviously laughing at her! We're making fun of real writers!


The novel I am so very close to finishing for NaNoWriMo is already sold. It's part of a larger fantasy series that will be in ebook first, and (if all continues to go right) print next year. It joins a number of other books I've already sold, along with several short stories. In fact, my total sales of novels and short stories since July, 1999 (my first sale) has just topped 50.

I'm not published by a 'real' print publisher out of New York (small press for the print editions coming out), so that probably disqualifies me in her eyes as well. However, since one of my books is by an epublisher who previously only took books by known authors, I'll stand by my right to be listed as an author, too. The rest of the people I'm published with have names like Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Christie Golden, Josepha Sherman, Jack C. Chalker, Jack Williamson... (SF and fantasy people might recognize some of those names. The rest of you don't need to worry about it -- grin.)

I did write a novel during NaNo last year -- I need to edit it still, but with nine books under contract since then, I kind of ran out of time. I think I'm going to do two novels this year for NaNo -- the one I'm just finishing for publication, and one that's just for me. I do it because it is fun.

Yes, I could have written Freedom and Fame without NaNoWriMo. In fact, since I have a signed contract for it, it's pretty much guaranteed I would have written it. But I held off starting it until November 1 so that I could throw myself into NaNo and do something silly -- work along with 10,000+ other writers, many of whom are also having fun.

There's another important part of all this that the woman obviously refuses to see. Everyone who becomes a novelist has to write a first book. For good or bad, the person has to sit down and learn the mechanics of turning out the words, sentences, paragraphs and pages that eventually become a novel. For many people, it takes far more than one attempt before they actually find their voice and true style. Some people look at the work involved and give up without some kind of goal and push. The idea of publication works as a catalyst for a few, but for many others it looks like such an impossibility that they never get through their first draft, let alone go on to editing, synopsis and query letters, and submissions.

But here a first time novelist (or anyone that has trouble getting a good run on a manuscript) can leap in and do the work because there is a silly, fun goal. Reach 50,000 words in one month. Don't worry if it's not perfect. Learning to edit comes after you learn to just write the material. The best editing in the world won't sell a novel that is never completed.

So, Alma misses the boat for the fun cruise while the rest of us party, and she's going to think we're making fun of her craft every time we laugh. She's going to continue to hold to her angst-filled attitude of 'you can't be a real writer if you do something this silly.' And the rest of us will continue to write. Some will be published. Some will not. But you know... I have heard Chris Baty's name mentioned by aspiring writers as someone who started something that gave them a reason to be a little daring -- and give novel writing a try. When I hear the same about Alma Hromic I'll maybe take her more seriously.

I love writing. I also work very hard at it, and I write every single day. I'm far from a perfect novelist, and for all I know, she writes far better prose than I ever will and is far more popular than I will ever be. But you know what? I wouldn't care if she made the Times Bestseller list and outsold Stephen King -- I'd still rather have fun writing, including doing something silly like NaNoWriMo, then be like her and bitch about other people having fun and doing something that will absolutely have no affect on her life whatsoever.

So, go have fun. Even if you don't make the 50,000 word goal, enjoy yourself while you're here through November. The party boat only sails once a year, and it's one of the few times and places where you can talk all you want about writing with people who not only understand what you're saying, but also aren't going to look down their noses at you and say 'You can't be a real writer because I haven't given you permission to be one.'

Have fun!

No comments: