Alright, how about some NanoFail instead

November 9th, 2009 | Tags: , , ,

I set my sights pretty high this year for nanowrimo. I wanted to actually write a story this year. I had to put it off in 2007 (even though I started) because of school. Last year (the year of hell) was just far too full of classes and homework and projects and boyfriend and drama (etc) that I didn’t even considering writing Nano. This year was supposed to be different though. I have all this free time now that I’m school-free. I had a handful of projects to finish (for xmas, if you must know) and since the projects I wanted done are now officially done, I figured why not, y’know?

I had an idea. It was a pretty good idea, if you must know. I was mostly excited about my idea. It just happened to be a fail idea, though. Works well in the movies-ish type of way, but no way could it coherently be told in story form. Not to mention that I haven’t actually read a good book in so long that I feared I might resort to using sparkling and beautiful ad nauseam until I hit the 50k word mark. I suppose it is a possibility.

In the end, I was putting off things like hanging out with the boyfriend, or going out at all, to pretend like I was going to do some writing. I wasn’t writing. I was catching up on Greek (on and knitting. Watching Greek and knitting was way more fun than trying to figure out how to move a story along that was so obviously being forced (which, trust me, is the point of Nanowrimo, but doesn’t mean it has to be that hard).

I debated for a couple of days over whether or not I should keep trying. Just plug along and eventually I would get over the “hump” and the story would flesh out and viola! I’d have another novel on my hands. I just wasn’t feeling it. It just didn’t feel right. I’ve written plenty a nano novel without any plotting, or research, or the like. I’ve also had difficult points where I had to nearly force myself to be bothered to care, let alone to write it out. There are many chapters in my previous nano novels that are “tough” to read (imagine having to be the one to write it!). This year was simply different.

The process of Nanowrimo has changed. What it means to me has changed. It used to be this fun event that I toughed out along with so many of my other friends from across the world. It was a learning and growing experience. It was ridiculous and unnerving. We joked about adding flying ninja monkeys, or killing people off, and it was reasonable. It happened. It wasn’t about the story, it was about the process.

For me, once Nanowrimo became what it is today, people have lost sight of what it used to be like. It used to be about growing as a writer, now it’s about the race to word count. It used to be about telling a story, now it’s only about “having the word count to brag about.” Notice a trend? It’s not a personal journey anymore. It’s definitely not fun anymore. It causes me stress. A large portion of that is because I want to believe myself to be a writer at heart, but really it’s a craft I have yet to perfect (if there is such a thing). Not to mention a craft that I have pushed to the wayside. It’s not something I do all the time. It’s not something I do daily, that’s for sure. So how can I write a novel telling a story about characters I don’t even care about. I don’t even know who my characters are!

I said it before though, I haven’t really been doing much reading either. It’s not that I think I should mirror my writing style towards anyone in particular, but you have to keep your brain primed for the kind of stuff you want to write about. I haven’t read any fiction all the way through in so long I’ve forgotten the last novel I’ve read (within the same year!). I have this pile of books (yes, a large pile) that I’ve picked up over the last couple of years, and they haven’t been shelved appropriately… well, because I don’t want them stashed. I want them where I can see that they’re asking to be read. They’re needing me to look at them and be curious what story is between the covers.

So late Saturday night I grabbed The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. Not the first on my list of must-reads, but it’s on there. I picked this one mostly because it’s about one of my favorite hobbies… knitting (of course).

Maybe if I can open up the reading repertoire it will also open myself up to the better writing I’d like to do. As easy as it is for me to explain why passive-voice writing is BAD to other people, I’m falling prey to it far too much… and it’s annoying.

So this year nano takes a backseat to other things in my life. Including reading, knitting and going to the gym.

4 Responses to “Alright, how about some NanoFail instead”

  1. Lisana on November 9, 2009 4:02 pm

    I think you’re right, you need to be doing it for the right reasons. If it’s just become about word count and not about the challenge, then it’s just not there.

    Go read, knit, enjoy life. Maybe next year will feel more right!

  2. Jess on November 9, 2009 4:15 pm

    What Lisana said! Also, tell me how that book is. I almost bought it yesterday. I still need to send you the pile of books I have sitting here for you – woo!

    I hear ya though…it’s not just about the words, it’s about the process of getting the words out of yourself. I think that’s why I’ve only started and never finished. Until there is a story within me that is DYING to get out, I am not motivated enough to stick to it. 🙁

  3. Russ on November 12, 2009 12:19 am

    I know just what you’re saying, and I thank YOU for helping me feel like I’m not the only one.

    This year I started, got frustrated, started again, and, well, you know the drill. It just wasn’t happening. Maybe I wasn’t excited about what I had to say, but too much of my frustration came from having lost some writing innocence. I know now what I’m doing wrong when I’m doing it and going to the NaNo forums makes me feel worse, not better.

    Like you, I miss the thrill of participating and feel the stress more than anything else. I can’t take writing so casually that I think of throwing in a flaming unicorn just to get wordcount, and I miss the community feeling that we shared when it was smaller and more like a secret club.

    Doesn’t mean I don’t have good memories, though.

  4. Deinera on November 13, 2009 7:06 pm

    Russ, Oh, the memories I have of Nano will never be replaced. Meeting you, Cybele, Will and the others was something I wouldn’t have changed for the world. And the last minute travel plans along the coast to go to the TGIO party in San Francisco?

    I wouldn’t trade a minute of that a novel today. Not once. Not ever. I miss the secret club it was too. And abhor the fanfic sex session it’s become. *throws up a little*

    *Big Hugs and a High Five*

    I think I need to consider writing as a writer, rather than the push to shove words to page. Until then, I’ll play some World of Warcraft, eat cookies, knit some socks and read a damn good book.

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