I know I’m late to the party getting on my NaNoWriMo soapbox, but I’ve been busy with revisions and most of my boxes are normally occupied by kittens, but since people are still talking about it and all the NaNo-ers are typing away, I figured I’d drag out the box.

I’m just going to sit on it, I’m not climbing up. I’m not really big on shouting about things, and it seems like a NaNo conversation should take place on a chat sort of level, so pull up a box and let’s talk about NaNoWriMo. I’m making tea. Also, there’s an analogy about birdies later.

First, to everyone currently NaNo-ing: HURRAH FOR YOU! I wave little flags made of colored Post-Its in your general direction and urge you to get off my blog and go writewritewrite! Or you know, if you need a break, feel free to hang out and have tea, but writewritewrite later. You’re awesome for taking on a challenge, you’re awesome for sitting down and writing. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

And now, you may actually want to leave. Because I can’t guarantee you’re going to like what I have to say next.

Your novel will not be finished at the end of the month.

Yeah, I know. If you’re lucky you’ll have a THE END at the, well, end, and it’ll be a novel-esque document full of 50k+ words, but it won’t be a finished novel.

It’ll be a draft.

Drafts are wonderful, wonderful things, but they are not finished novels.

(On a related note, to quote da Vinci: Art is never finished, only abandoned. But that’s an entirely different post.)

I say this even though it’s been said far and wide over the internet already, because there are apparently people who don’t get it.

For those of us who do get it… here, have more tea. The haters get frustrating, don’t they?

Here’s the thing: if you want to spend your November writing novels or knitting socks or doing interpretive dance about novels about socks, that’s your business.

Don’t let haters on the internet make you think you’re wasting your time.

But be realistic about it. What gives NaNo a bad name, what gets the anti-NaNo people’s rantypants in a twist is the people who query agents on December 1st with drafts instead of novels.

Don’t do this. Please. It’s like spending all of November hand-feeding a little baby bird and then kicking it out of its nest with a combat boot come December.

Let the little novel birdie stay in the nest for awhile. Give it flying lessons. Tell it that it’s a pretty bird, even if it isn’t. It has the potential to be a pretty bird.

Make it a stronger bird. It might take weeks or it might take years, but it will fly better if you don’t kick it out of the nest too soon. If you kick it out of the nest before it’s ready, it’s going to need therapy and it’s not going to trust you anymore.

Now, you may be one of those magical people who writes amazing first drafts. You are rare. I kind of hate you. Your novel birdie is a phoenix. Watch out, its nest is probably on fire.

Most of us do not write phoenix novels. That’s the lovely thing about novels, and novel-writing. There are lots of different birds, lots of ways to reach the same goal. I’d like to think my novels are more like… oh, I don’t know. Let’s go with pygmy falcons. Cute but fierce. Really fluffy-looking at first. Probably not on fire.

Has this analogy gotten out of hand yet?

That’s okay, you don’t have to listen to me. But I feel vaguely qualified to sit on my soapbox and make bird analogies. I do have a novel I started during NaNoWriMo (’06) being published in the foreseeable future. I wrote a long, wandering draft of it over the span of two Novembers and then spent a very, very long time turning it into something book-shaped and polishing it before I let it out of its nest.

And I am still sitting here making it better. It just has a lot more people telling it what a pretty bird it is now.

So to the NaNo-ers: Happy NaNo-ing!

To the haters: Calm it down. Have some tea. Seriously. And if you’re going to claim NaNoWriMo is a waste of time, I apologize in advance for laughing at you.

Categories: writing


Kaari · November 14, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Well said! Just having the impetus to sit down and write every day, forcing us to turn off the inner editor, is a good thing. As is spending good, quality time in revision before submitting anything.

Happy Revisionland! I miss NaNo this year.

    Nicola · November 15, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    This is such a lovely post! I am sending links to this to a few friends who are unaware of NaNo but are aspiring writers. And congratulations. ๐Ÿ™‚
    *Makes a futile attempt to find a gap on the covered walls*
    *Wanders off to peer at more of your lovely art*

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