So why in the world would I participate in NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month in which writers take on the lofty goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days) when I’m smack dab in the middle of working with my editor on Wanted: Dead or Undead? I have a publisher. I have several books, already written, that I plan to release next year through them, so why NaNoWriMo?
Because I need to write.
I need to. What's so wrong about that?
I’ve been editing and rewriting for the most part of this last year, which can be somewhat fun in its own right, but it’s not the same as writing. It’s not. Editing is editing. Writing is writing.
I want to write. I want to write like crazy. CRAZY!
Will it be crap when the month of November is over? Oh, YEAH, it will be. There is no way I can write a perfect manuscript in a month. I know there are some who can type out a masterpiece within a few weeks worth of time. It has been done—there are classics and bestsellers that have proved it is possible.
Unfortunately, I’m not one of those talented few.
But so what? I have the whole rest of the year to fix and tweak and rewrite—if I find the manuscript worth salvaging. That’s what the months of December through October are for. Besides, writing a manuscript in one month that is pure genius and without flaw isn’t the point of NaNoWriMo.
On the flip side, writing 50,000 words of crap isn’t the point either. There are some who are so caught up in reaching 50K that they will cheat to do so by typing random words or describing the sky for ten full pages, etc . . . In both cases, the point of NaNoWriMo has been missed. It’s really NOT about the 50K at all.
The real point of NaNoWriMo is to tap into your creative side and write—just write.
THAT is the point.
Oh, many will rally against NaNoWriMo, saying it’s a waste of time, a quality vs. quantity kind of thing. A lowering of standard. Some will say that books will be written in a month and then the market will be flooded in December with crappy, unedited 50,000 word novels.
Again, so what? The market has a way of weeding those out with bad reviews, rejections from editors and agents, and whatnot. In essence, it would be a very small percentage of NaNoWriMo’s who actually publish their book as is anyway. For the most part, many of these manuscripts will never see the light of day as they are filed away by their creators who will deem them unreadable. Most NaNoWriMo’s write for the challenge and for the camaraderie and not necessarily for quick publication.
And again, I ask, what’s wrong with that?
I mean, the first year I did NaNoWriMo, back in 2003, I was a mother of a 6 year old, a 2 year old, and a 3 month old baby. I had always loved to write, but NEVER had the time. I was busy playing Playdough and watching Barney and Teletubbies. I wanted to do something for ME. I wanted to recapture my love for writing. So I signed up, unsure I could even do it, and with a toddler playing at my feet and a baby in my arms, I typed. I wrote a story for the first time in YEARS.
It wasn’t very good. Total crap, actually. I have never done anything with it and no one has ever read it, but BOY did I feel as though I had accomplished something big. That feeling was tremendous. A local reporter wrote a story about NaNoWriMo and published a few names of people in the area who chose to do it and so my name ended up in the paper. My dad (yes, my dad) even laminated the article. I still have it. I'm that proud.
But six years went by before I chose to try it a second time. I’m unsure why, exactly. I assume it was a matter of life getting in the way—kids, family, etc . . .
In 2009 I decided to try it again. I wanted to recapture that feeling I had six years before. This time, though, I had a real purpose in mind—I wanted to write a story that had a beginning, middle, and an end. None of my stories ever had an ending. Not one. And so I made it a goal that by the end of November, I would have an ending. Is a 50K book considered a novel—no. It’s not, but I didn’t care. I wanted to prove to myself that I could actually finish a story.
And I did.
I’m proud of that book. Is it very good? Not really. Only a couple of people have read it. And until I get the opportunity to revise it and add more to it (I have learned so much and my writing has come a long way since then) no one will. It’s a great story, it just needs a lot of work.
Then last year, I decided to do it for a third time. Again, I had a goal in mind. I usually write in first person and my MC is always female. I decided this time around I would write in third person and I would have at least one of my MC’s be male. I wanted to see if I could write like a dude. Also I had written Desert Rice and its sequel Desert Flower and both of those books tapped me out emotionally--tough subject matter. I wanted to write something fun and what's more fun than a western romance, zombie style? I wanted to have fun.
And I did.
This time though, the novel didn’t have an ending. I hit my 50K but knew another 20-30 was needed to wrap it up. So I spent the next eight to nine months adding more.
Then I edited, and edited, and edited—A LOT.
Then I submitted it to agents and publishers.
And now, that book which started out as a NaNoWriMo writing exercise will be published early next year—WANTED: Dead or Undead, the first book in the Zombie West Series, through Evolved Publishing. I'm working with one of their editors right now.
So again, I ask, what is so wrong about NaNoWriMo? Look what it did for me.
Anything that gets people motivated to write can't be all that bad. And for those who hate on NaNoWriMo, I just don't get it. Sorry. All of the arguments against it don't make that much sense to me.
I look forward to this year of NaNoWriMo. I will be writing out the draft form for the second book in the Zombie West Series. That is my plan. So tomorrow morning I will be back to writing about zombies and it excites me. Then I will spend the next year revising and editing.
You can't edit or revise if you have nothing written.
Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If you are, pop over to the NaNo site and add me as a buddy—we can encourage each other and have a great time doing it.
User name: Calynnblue (not sure why I picked that name back in 2003).