Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's nearly that time again -- NaNo 2008!

Hello there, ladies and gents. I know I've been quiet on the blogging front lately, but with good reason. I have a novel that I have to finish. And my time is swiftly running out.

Why is it running out, you ask? Because we've crossed the void from summer into fall and that means it's time to begin prepping for National Novel Writing Month (that's NaNo to all and sundry) and I'm here to try to spread the good word and hopefully get you--yes, YOU!--to sign aboard and make the journey with me.

I know what you're going to say to me. "You're the writer here, you write books. I don't write." Well, guess what? Just because you don't doesn't mean you can't. In fact, having not written, you're in the singular place of getting the most out of NaNo. NaNo isn't for writers, to be quite honest. Not the kind of working writer I try to be, anyway.

No, NaNo is for you. For the person who's probably never even thought about writing a novel before. Or the person who's thought about it but never thought they could actually do it. If you've said 'I could write a story, but...' lemme tell you that NaNo is the perfect excuse to disregard the but and turn the 'could' into a 'will'.

In NaNo, the goal is to write 50,000 words. This is a small novel. In order to make this easy for you, you even have a time frame to work in--November 1 to November 30. In that month, should you choose to, you and over a hundred thousand other people will all take the adventure into storytelling.

Now, those of you who know anything about writing will say '50000 words in a month? MADNESS!' I'm not here to misquote 300 at you, so I'll simply agree. Yes, it's madness, but all creation is madness and people need a little madness in their lives.

NaNo is an opportunity to do something you would never normally do. No human would normally write a novel in a month. But for a month (just a month!) you can tell people that you're writing a novel, and mean it. You aren't puttering around, you aren't thinking about writing a novel. You're racing to the 50k mark each and every day. Laying down pages and characters and stories. Living in a world that you create.

Of course, the next question (probably more of a skeptical statement) is undoubtedly 'but a novel written that fast can't be good.' And while your pessimism isn't helpful, you bring up a good point. A novel written that fast won't be good. But guess what? No novel is ever good when it's first written.

It's a well-kept secret in writing that whatever book you pick up was once a really terrible first draft. Whether that person took 30 days or 30 years to write the first draft, it's going to be awful (well, maybe not 30 years, perhaps, but if it was 30 months, certainly). First drafts by definition are bad. You're hammering out a story that keeps moving and changing on you. You're finding what works, what doesn't. You're exploring the vast expanses of your mind and the page.

Trust me, every first draft is shit. And they're all worth the effort, even the worst author.

NaNo isn't for fame or fortune. But it is a chance to do something few people ever do. It's a chance to take a chance and try something new. It's the singular opportunity for a few autumn weeks to stay up late and drink lots of coffee and imagine things that you'd never think about because they might give you material. It's glorious. It's empowering. It's silly and fun.

I highly recommend it to all of you.

Give the NaNo website a glance, would you? For me, I ask you. Chris Baty, the founder, explains what it's all about far better than I ever could. And think, seriously think, about signing up. Even if you don't succeed fully, you'll have made the attempt. And everything is worth doing once.

I know you can do it. Every one of you. We all have at least one story in us, probably far more than that. Maybe it's time to try to pry one of the bastards loose and make him stand there so we can look at him.

Here's the mission statement, such as it is.

And here's the FAQ, for you inquisitive types.

If you have any further questions, feel free to drop me a line ( bandaidwriter@gmail.com if you didn't know ). I'm more than willing to try to encourage every single person who reads this blog to join NaNo. Sign-ups are open, people are gathering, and we're waiting for the show to begin in another month.

Viva la novellista!

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