Biting the hand?

My first experience with NaNoWriMo was in 2007. That work was “Swan Song”, which was published by Deadly Niche Press on Christmas Day 2012. I completed 2008 and then my 2009 effort, “The .9 mm Solution” will be published by the same publisher later this year. I went on to complete three more and “won” NaNoWriMo a total of six times in six years.

So, why aren’t I participating this year? I could simply say that writers must change in order to continue to develop and grow. That might sound hokey but part of it is true. Six years ago, I needed something to jump-start my writing. When I came across the madness of attempting to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days, I figured I had found the jolt of energy I was looking for. However, in a recent discussion with my wife, she asked about the effort from last year or the year before. She hadn’t read them or even known what they were about. That was because I did nothing with them. Not shortly thereafter nor since.

It had all become simply a race to the finish, finding anyway to make 50,000 words stick to the paper. Spell out numbers and remove hyphens. Do not ever use contractions. Go into elaborate monologues or dialogues. Describe the hell out of something banal. Count those words. No story. No plot. No character. Just words. Okay, and maybe later you go back and form something out of it. Which, in essence is saying “I’m willing to waste 30 days of my life for what essentially is a game.

Hold on before you blame me for biting the hand that fed me and helped me create two novels which were traditionally published. Let’s remember this online international event is only motivation. It has absolutely nothing to do with craft or development, in and of itself. Yes, it is a fun challenge. But unless you’re Joey Chestnut, there is no reason to eat 60+ hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. For seven consecutive years.

I give NaNoWriMo all the credit in the world for motivating me at a time when I needed to just write. They were my training wheels. Now, it is far more important to work on craft, plot development, interesting and yet realistic dialogue, twists, unexpected endings. As a writer I need to find quality words and turns of phrase rather than bulk my manuscript with pabulum. I am no longer impressed with myself or anyone else for “winning”, whether it is in thirty days or ten (because they have so much time on their hands and this seems like fun).

Writing is a long and arduous process that requires your complete attention, not just for thirty days, but always. So, slow down and focus. Pay attention to your writing and leave the games to those who need the motivation.


1 Comment

  1. myrickeaton said,

    September 30, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Thumbs up, H.B. You could be right.


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