Sunday, December 9, 2007

Argument against NaNoWriMo

I was writing something about the joys of teaching yourself in a nonacademic environment, the touch and go sort of stuff and how wonderful it is to learn to write through those methods as averse to a classroom style, but I don't think I will.

For the second night in a row I made the unpleasant mistake of reading commentary by someone against national novel writing month. Now, if it were intelligent and rational (not Hume's rational, but the other sort) then I would be happy, in fact I would be quite interested in what they had to say. I love debate, debate is good, crass devaluation is not. But I am rather afraid that I will end up treating these people with the same contempt that they treat us, so I will attempt to rationalise and explain their views before I defend our beloved cause.

1.That the more people who write novels the more people there will be who think of themselves as writers, the more who think they are writers the more who will say they are and try to query agents. This creates disrespectful behavior to those who have worked for a long time to call themselves writers, second it puts more amateurs in dangers of being scammed.
2.That writing 50,000 words does not mean you have written a novel, and people who believe this are annoying.
3.That it is not healthy to write 50,000 words of trash, especially when it isn't even sequential.
4.That the serious work comes in the editing phase and telling someone they are a novelist is a pre-emptive move.

I hope I have properly represented these ideas, I must admit that it is difficult considering the black backgrounds on most of these sites (web designer's code for amateur, but I deserve one ad hominem don't I? I had to put up with all their swearing and poorly chosen photographs, I deserve one attack.)

First is the view that only certain people have ought to write. This seems very common with lit fic writers (I hope I do not aim this at the innocent), it is understandable I suppose, they went to school for this and we are disrespecting it. It is like the singular 'they', it may be of use but it goes against the grain.

I disagree with the idea that nanowrimo corrupts the idea of what makes a writer. For one thing from what I have seen nanowrimo is not a freak incident. These people want to write, they have always wanted to write and they like it very much when someone gives them permission to do so, and those are the ones who aren't writers to begin with. There is at times a sort of competition on the forums, who started writing first. I lose, I only started when I was 13. Clearly I am a late-bloomer, because most of these people started when they were seven. Doesn't really sound like a freak occurrence now does it?

I accept that nanowrimo does put more people into the danger of scams, but the site does it's best to protect it's writers. In fact I find it to be one of the most protective and encouraging sites in existence, I love to see everyone helping and encouraging. It is rare indeed that a truly cruel remark is scene, very strange for a writing forum, though our mods are awesome.

I have read novels that are 50,000 words long so it is strange to learn that such things do not exist. However it is true that these novels are rather short, I think that might explain all those scenes I left out that I need to go back and write in January.

Now, the idea that it is bad to write things that are bad is...umm...begging the question. Forgive me, I had a philosophy exam today and it is still in my head. True, it isn't good to write badly. It is good to give yourself the freedom to be imperfect, to allow your muse to take you on grand adventures not permitted by some unspoken cultural norm, and to write so quickly that the dead end never catches up to you.

The final claim, or an edition, is usually that editing is more important then writing. Now, if this is true, then it is better to have a quickly finished rough so that you can get on to the important part. I know that some people do not edit there nano novels. Many do, and those people could not have done so without have something to edit in the first place.

I hate this sort of thing, it reminds me that there is filth and unhappiness in places it has no need to exist and in people who have no right to be either. It is a sad lesson, and one I am getting tired of learning.

The worst part about this is that bit of me that stumbles to its feet somewhere in the back of my mind and starts to growl. I think it might be me pride, I put it back there whenever it misleads me. It makes me want to publish, to fight until I find a place for myself and then laugh in their faces. This is not right, and it is certainly not the reason I write and certainly not the path I want to take at this point in my life.

As to the editing on the other hand, I'm a bit dizzy with excitement for that. Sort of like a power high, I am quite convinced that I can take what I wrote and turn it into something worthy of existence. It sort of feels like the month before nanowrimo, except I know that this will last a great deal longer and probably make me a great deal less stable.

But back to people who disagree with nanowrimo, they do have valid points and it is important to consider the other side of things, but I do not agree with the way of doing things I have so far encountered. For anyone of delicate sensibilities, avoid these sorts of places. These people are not interested in explaining their disagreement, they are interested in attacking the sort of person who would want to write a novel in a month. They do it poorly, I defend them better then they defend themselves, and do not consider that they are hurting people by voicing such harsh opinions, or at least creating vulgarity in the flame-wars they start.

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