NaNoWriMo: Update 1

I attended the kick-off event.

In typical France/Malo experience I get there and am locked out. There’s two numbers to call, but of course I don’t have a phone. The workspace where the event was being held was in the middle of clubville, so there’s a few hundred people dressed up to party and me with my laptop out, trying to get a signal, so I can contact them to tell them to let me in.

I got in and got settled with some of the people I had met at the meet & greet. There were about 50 people there and a ton of food. Most people had shown up around 8 or 9, but I got there a little after 12 when the writing could officially begin.

One of the benefits in writing in an environment like that though is while most people did a good amount of socializing in addition to writing, not speaking the language I am exempt from falling into that. As a result I managed to crank out 8,257 words that first night between midnight and 8am. In order to complete on time you have to do 1,667 words a day, so I was off to a good start. I just hope that doesn’t lead to complacency.

The biggest problem for me is not going to be the writing, it is going to be the editing. Or trying not to. It is in my nature to go back and edit and revise as I go. But I know in order to reach the go I have to forgo this. So all those little red squiggles that I see under the spelling errors I just have to let go. Gaping holes in flow or plot? Ignore the. For now.

I happened to be reading online some of people’s thoughts on NaNoWriMo. There are certainly supporters and there are certainly detractors. While I was curious and wanted to hear both sides, in the end the haters just sound like a bunch of… haters. Cranky lit snobs that bemoan the lack of “art” or production of anything of substance (aka: published) as a result of NaNoWriMo. There have been some things published that have come out of the 50k word challange, but it pales in comparison to the number that enter or complete the month. While every year there is a series of people bemoaning the challange, this one has gotten the most attention this year. Here was another elitist response slamming NaNoWriMo, but the comments basically ether him and the ridiculousness of attacking NaNoWriMo.

Lighten up! NaNoWriMo is about producing a first draft and in the process, perhaps, discovering that writing a commercially publishable manuscript is a lot more difficult than reading one. How many musicians are in garage bands that will never receive a recording contract, even if they upload a song on MySpace?

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It is about discipline. It is about the roller coaster high and low of success. It isn’t about writing a best seller. It is about the desire to quit talking about wanting to be a writer and just doing it.

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While I can certainly see the reasoning behind the backlash towards NaNoWriMo, I think most people are missing the point. It’s probably not a month for those people who are serious about publishing. It’s for the rest of us who love writing just to write, and wanna feel as though we are doing something, and have fun. It becomes a mini competition between friends. Maybe the real thing to look at, is how many people actually expect to be wonderful great writers when they participate in NaNoWriMo.

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It’s important to practice discipline when writing, and I think NaNoWriMo clearly acknowledges that editing is a whole other ball of wax…

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Never discourage creativity of any kind. It is through artistic expression no matter how good or bad that helps keep us individuals moving forward and growing mentally and emotionally

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If, at the very least, NaNoWriMo breaks down my writer’s block wall and gets me off the procrastination chair, then it’s worth the entry fee…WHICH IS ZERO!

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It seems to me the point of NaNoWriMo is to get the shitty first draft of your novel out of your head and onto paper, a sort of communal kick in the pants. It’s not supposed to be “good” writing (uh, hello…you wrote it in a month). I participated in 2006 and completed the challenge and I actually really love the novel that came out of it – but that doesn’t mean it’s good or publishable or that I think I can skip the whole editing part and shoot right to fame and fortune. Do people really think that or is that just what Real Writers tell themselves to feel superior?

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Anyone who would bash NaNo as pointless or as not contributing to art, really needs to consider the alternative. 200,000 people sitting inside during the dreary month of November, eating potato chips in front of TV, watching re-runs and bad reality shows.

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NaNoWriMo *is* about the process, as evidenced by the facts that anyone who makes it to 50k is considered a “winner” and there is no way for a writer to share his/her actual work with the public through the site – only word count.

Haters gon hate.

Anyways, after 3 days in I am up to 11,103 words.
I ended up shelving what I originally outlined because I wasn’t able to really map it out properly enough in times to try to bang it out in thirty days, but hopefully I will go at it at a later time. Instead, so far, the story is morphing into something like:

What happens in a young family made up of a mother who is a recovering addict that relapses frequently, a father that falls for another woman, and two daughters that are allowed to draw on the walls of the house. A story of fucking up, regrets and continuing to make mistakes. Even sometimes with the best intentions. Is there hope for change?

Who knows where it will end up.

I also decided to put the actual updates online in password protected posts. Keep in mind this is a work in progress and essentially a first draft, not a final one. There are tons of spelling and grammatical errors and its not formatted.