I’ve known I wanted to do National Novel Writing Month back when it was called just “National Novel Writing Month” and when I read about it in the Newspaper.
Kids, “Newspapers” were things that used to be delivered every day that told us what happened yesterday. Also, we used it as wrapping paper when we were headed to a party in the next five minutes.
Anyway, I did some research on National Novel Writing Month before I sat down to do it, and that’s when I discovered the dark side of the Month. No, not doping. But the Toxic People. Yes, there are always Toxic People that will infect every aspect of your life, and the internet has “fortunately” given them all a voice. (Hooray, he said sarcastically.) It’s the same with National Novel Writing Month.
The first type, of course, are a few other writers who complain about how this month “demeans their craft.” Forgetting of course, that they don’t own writing. This would be like a chef getting mad because people are cooking at home, or a zookeeper mad because you keep lions in your basement. (I haven’t heard anything from the zebras down there... maybe I should go check on them.)
Of course, then you get the people that don’t get it. Not “getting it” is fine. I don’t get people who enjoy any of the “Real Housewives” shows. Here’s how I deal with it: I leave them alone and I don’t watch any of the shows. It’s a remarkably effective procedure that I’ve managed to employ, and it doesn’t really effect me.
But there’s an odd sub-group of Those Who Don’t Get it, and they want to actively discourage you from doing it. TWDGI want to insult what you’re doing, remind you that “real” writers (apparently those who formed a secret society) take time to craft their masterpieces, forgetting of course that Nanowrimo is merely a challenge to get a first draft out, not a fully polished version of War and Peace. (Although if you really wanted to just re-type that, you could...) “Real” writers do, in fact, write sloppy, stupid, insane first drafts of just about anything, from novels to plays to movies. For instance, the first version of Han Solo was a lizard alien and Darth Vader was not Luke’s father, although he did offer to go halfsies with Luke if he wanted in on the whole “ruling the universe” thing. Obviously a few things changed.
“Real” writers even change things AFTER the book has been made. The original version of Frodo getting the One Ring in the Hobbit was very different, and a bit more lighthearted than the version that Tolken wanted to write after he realized that it was a murderous ring rather than one that just made him invisible. He wrote up a few versions of it, too.
My point being that writers always change their drafts, and sometimes even what’s published is a “draft.” So challenging yourself to write a first draft in 30 days is just that... a challenge. Not a binding contract that you don’t edit a single word.
The last group of haters is a smaller one, but some of it can be “veteran” Nanowrimo writers. Last year, I attempted to do Nanowrimo. Harsh instances of life got in the way, and I was forced to abandon my aspirations, at least for that Nanowrimo. Yeah, to those people I’m just a failure who will always fail and why am I infecting their future masterpieces with my failing failure of a fail. FAIL!
Quick side note: This is the minority of those in the Nanowrimo community. As with any community, you’ll always meet those that desperately wished High School lasted forever, and they will be part of the cool clique. However, as I said at the outset of this post, the Internet has allowed that minority to be louder and more obnoxious than ever.
My response to them is the very Lebowskian: That’s like... your opinion, man. Look, Nanowrimo isn’t an exclusive club. It’s not even really just one month. In theory, I could start a novel on March 29th and Finish it on April 28th if I wanted to challenge myself. I think it’s fun to try. That’s why I do it. And the fact that you’ve done it before... good for you. But if you need to bring me down to make yours even better, then I feel bad for you. This is about encouragement. This is about tens of thousands of people trying at something, and having fun even if they fail.
Toxic people are all around us. They don’t want you to “win”. Or have a “win.” I also understand that this is easier said than done. Sometimes the 10 voices you have around you saying “go for it!” are quickly drowned out by the one saying, “This is stupid!” The trick is to remind yourself that yeah... this is kind of stupid. Stupid, stupid, fun. See, it’s the really great people in life that take something that’s “stupid” to others, and make it fun. And there will always be people who want you to fail, because it makes them feel better about themselves. To those people, you can only smile and hope they find whatever inner piece they will eventually need to feel good about themselves. They may never.
So, what do we take away from this? That if you’d like to support me, let me hear it. If you want to bring me down, go ahead and try. In 32 days, you’ll get to see the first draft of my book up here. And I’m going to make stupid jokes that I find funny. I’m going to make little references that I enjoy, and maybe no one else. But it’s going to be an accomplishment that’s entirely my own. And then I can remind myself that I’m just that awesome.