How Do You Know If You Can Say No to NaNo?
The Internet has mutated reasonable people into wannabe writers…We are blind to the harsh truth-light-radiating facts such as ‘half of self-published authors earn less than $500’, facts written about in newspapers by professional writers.
That’s Tom Mitchell (@tommycm on Twitter) writing an essay at Medium, War on #amwriting. I must thank my colleague in London, Sheila Bounford, for reminding me of it. It could have been lost in the Bavarian Ether: Mitchell’s article came out during our always intense Frankfurt Book Fair week in Germany.
Bounford joined us for Authoright’s half-day conference there for English-language authors. I moderated two of the panels during that afternoon at BuchMesse’s new Business Club — a true haven at a Book Fair that drew 270,000 people. Every one of them was in my train car from the Hauptbahnhof to the FestHalle/Messe, too.[pullquote]The Internet on most days looks like a clothesline for all the dirty linen we once knew it was incorrect to display to the world.[/pullquote]
And as our panelists took questions from the floor, I was struck, as I am time and time again, by how basic those inquiries were. So many members of the audience were asking what they should have known from their own research as would-be professionally productive writers (whether self-publishing or traditionally published). Of course, they weren’t doing any research. That was obvious. And that is the problem. We see it everywhere, in this world in which, per Mitchell, the Internet has “mutated reasonable people into wannabe writers.”
Everyone has decided that he or she has a book in them, right? Mitchell:
There’s lots of stuff we all have in us, a spleen for example, but decide not to share.
Mitchell won’t win, of course. We’re likely to see the spleens come out, too. The Internet on most days looks like a clothesline for all the dirty linen we once knew it was incorrect to display to the world. I was recently told by a regular reader and friend that it was great I seemed to be “sharing more personal stuff” about myself in my writing. I pulled back at once. I’m Southern. Bubbas don’t share. We’re better bred than that.
Mitchell’s special target in his essay is NaNoWriMo, which looms once more on the calendar’s horizon. I had dinner in Frankfurt with Grant Faulkner, executive director of NaNo, immensely likable guy. We enjoy talking. He didn’t wear his horned helmet at table, just to answer the question I know is eating you alive. He’s aware that I have my qualms about kamikaze writing efforts, although many writers I respect think the NaNo dive-bomb is a good one.
As I told Faulkner, my worry isn’t about the NaNoWriMo month of November. It’s December. Mitchell says it well:
NaNoWriMo must be the worst thing that’s happened to literary agents since alcoholic lunches fell out of fashion. I almost pity the bespectacled bastards, receiving thousands upon thousands of unedited manuscripts, their December inboxes overflowing like knackered toilets, the only merit to the majority of these ‘novels’ being that they were completed quite quickly.
It’s not NaNo’s or Faulkner’s fault that so many NaNoWriMo participants ignore the instructions saying for God’s sake don’t submit your NaNoWriMo draft for publication (or self-publish the thing) in December.