Kath here. Rarely do I preface a contributor post, but we’ve already had some upsets in the comments over Ann’s post. A reminder that as writers, we can leave comments of disagreement that are polite and reasoned, and not the equivalent of “you’re a doody head”. Thanks. Here’s a fluffy kitty for your trouble.
The first three syllables are delightful. National Novel Writing. Just reading that gives me a warm fuzzy. But the last one? It pisses me off.
Writers writing one month a year… for the love of God, why? If they mean to write, then they should do so all year long — on lunch breaks, before and after work, and be dreaming of the stories in between. I’ve seen others complaining about the speed at which people write during NaNo. That doesn’t bother me. As C.J. Cherryh said, “It is perfectly okay to write garbage–as long as you edit brilliantly.”
What bothers me is the idea that this is a hobby that one can pick up and put down. For many of us, this is a job, dream come true, and vocation, all rolled into one. I want people to take it seriously. Commit. Work on it all year long. To me, having one month for writing is as absurd as only caring about the environment one month a year. If it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth giving your whole heart. This business is too hard to have any room for dilettantes. Now, granted, if people are not interested in writing as a career, and they just like larking about for a month with their mates, then I withdraw my objections. Otherwise, I don’t see the value in only working 1/12 of the year, if you mean to pursue it seriously. If you’re doing NaNo in addition to your other work, then again, I commend you.
Ray Bradbury sums up my feelings well: “Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.”
Persistence pays. Without it, how can one month a year can create a career? I’ll close with this thought from Jane Yolen (with whom I could not agree more), “Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”
If you want to get better, you write. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Not annually.
I welcome rebuttal and reasoned debate.