“What’choo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” It appears that not everyone is onboard the NaNoWriMo train. Laura Miller at Salon writes: Better yet, DON’T write that novel: Why National Novel Writing Month is a waste of time and energy.
“For me, the end of October is always slightly tinged with dread — provoked not by Halloween spooks, not even by election season, but by the advent of something called NaNoWriMo.”
Why not celebrate those jumping in to NaNoWriMo for their efforts? They’re teenagers getting more deeply invested in literature and retirees with time on their hands. They’re husbands and wives shirking duties at home, parents getting out of carpool duties, fortysomethings finally making the time. They’re all trying to create something with words. They are, quite simply, people who like books enough to try to write one.
Eric Rosenfield at Wet Asphalt counters with Why I Hate National Novel Writing Month, and Why You Should Too.
As for National Novel Writing Month, they seem to care more about making you feel good than about anything having remotely to do with storytelling. And you’ll excuse me if I find that just a little depressing.
It seems to me to be antithetical to good writing, just as seeing how many shrimp you can eat in 10 minutes is antithetical to fine dining. Doing this doesn’t make you a gourmand, and writing 50,000 words in a month doesn’t make you a novelist, no matter how warm you feel inside. (You might well have a Unibomber-esque future in manifesto writing, however, if you’re willing to confine yourself to single-space typing and a creepy ramshackle cabin in rural America.)
Despite all my disillusionment with NaNoWriMo’s mission and its results, I still want to like it. I’m even tempted, as I am every year, to participate. All that enthusiasm and hope. Who could resist it? It has the champagne promise of a New Year’s resolution.
And a final thought: what if the failure of NaNoWriMo to produce notable writing has less do to with its own internal flaws than with the impossibility of literature itself. Perhaps NaNoWriMo is merely the evidence of what has always been. Hundreds of thousands of would-be writers typing as fast and as well as they can, struggling against the pressures of time, striving to put aside their fears and ignore their flaws. Hundreds of thousands of participants thinking this might be the year. Hundreds of thousands of novels written every decade. But only very rarely that miraculous thing: a winner.
What do you think? Is NaNoWriMo a force for good in the world or the spawn of Satan? Or does bipartisanship really exist?