NaNoWhatMo?

And here we are; it is November yet again. November, the month of autumn, of first Christmas presents, of staying inside while the rain’s pouring down. That’s what November is to me, anyway. Maybe to you, it’s a sunny and warm spring, and maybe you don’t even celebrate Christmas. But what November always is, at least to 300,000+ writers, is NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month. Except it’s not national, but rather global. GloNoWriMo, I suppose.

If you’ve never heard of NaNo, well, here’s your opportunity to learn your one random thing for today: NaNo is a website. It’s more than that, obviously, but to me, it’s mostly a website. A website that encourages me, through pep-talks and fancy little banners, and of course through simple peer pressure, to write a novel of 50,000 words in a month. A novel that nobody will ever read, and that I won’t be getting any prizes for.

Now, before you ask why I would do such a thing if there’s nothing to gain from it, let me ask you a question. Have you ever written a novel? And done it in just thirty days? No? Hmm, well look at that.

All NaNo users know that most of us will never get their original NaNo novels published. But that’s not what it’s about. NaNo is about getting us to write, getting us over writers’ block or our own stupid laziness. It’s not about quality. That’s what comes afterwards. In November, we write. We write until our fingers fall off and our sight is blurred and we dream of letters and words and worlds of our own creation. And yes, it’s often not even decent. Let’s be honest; most of the time, what we write in November is bad. But then there’s December and January and February, to edit and to make what we wrote in November pretty. At least it’s there.

So, despite the fact that I am going to London in a few days, and that I have to find a job this month, and that there are papers piling up, waiting to be written, I have yet again signed up for NaNo. I have tried to escape its magic, and I succeeded once, in 2009. Other than that, though, I have been caught in its pull since the day I joined, way back in 2007. My personal NaNo history definitely isn’t the most glamorous. I’ve only ever won once, in 2010. All the other years, I gave up before ever hitting 2k, I believe. And I can’t even claim I did something great with my 2010 ‘novel’. I still refuse to even call it a novel because even now, two years later, it is just barely 50,000 words of rambling and non-plotty story with plot holes the size of Texas and writing that is mediocre at best. But it’s there. And at some point, maybe I’ll come back to it. And if I don’t, well. At least I had my thirty days and nights of literary abandon.

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