Sunday, November 2, 2008

nano nano?

It's November, which means it's time for NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo. For those unfamiliar w/ the words or think I've got peanut butter stuck to the roof of my mouth (metaphorically speaking, since I'm typing the words), let me translate. The first stands for National Novel Writing Month. The second is National Blog Posting Month. In the case of the first, the goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel in one month. The second is to do a post every day (I assume -- I've actually never done it before!).

My last NaNoWriMo was in 2006-- it was my second consecutive year. And I "won," too--I did the 50K (with a couple hundred to spare) and produced the first draft of what eventually became Ordinary World, the sequel to Faking It. The year before that, I didn't fare as well--made it to about 35,000 words, and that manuscript is still sitting in a drawer. It's not that I didn't like the concept (actually, I love it -- it was my homage to Richard Russo's Straight Man), and I've tried several times to revive it since then, but I just can't seem to get the action going on it, not to mention that I would probably be sued for libel if I did because the characters are based on real people, and I think it's a little too obvious (then again, maybe I'm the only one who knows). Still, I hope one day I can actually finish it.

There were some really fun things about doing it. The first was the challenge and the competitive spirit of it to actually finish, like running the New York or Boston Marathon (had to get both of my homes in there!). There's also a sense of community, even though you write on your own. You can post your pages and daily word counts, and there are support groups and forums and such things. A good friend of mine used to send me a daily cartoon. And some days I really got into what I was writing and enjoyed myself. And when my students got wind of it, they started asking me about my word counts each day. I think they were both fascinated and bewildered by the process -- who writes 1700 words a day for fun???

So why not do it again?
Given my current schedule and the fact that I'm already working on a book, I plain don't have time to try NaNoWriMo, or even NaBloPoMo. But in the case of the former, even if I did, I wouldn't do it anyway. Why? Because for me, it causes me to write really crappy. Like my students who get so hung up on the page requirement (which is why I stress, "4 pages is a guideline"), I get so obsessive w/ the word count that I write passive, wordy, very poorly constructed sentences and useless descriptions. Ordinary World turned out pretty good by the final draft, but man, the stylistic clean-up I had to do... it also seemed to take longer to iron out some of the plot and character problems in revision because I had plowed through them when I got stuck, in the interest of making the word count goal. And then, on top of that, the stylistic crap got in the way. I concluded that it was more trouble than it was worth, and decided not to go for a hat trick NaNoWriMo.

As for NaBloPoMo, I suppose I could take a crack at it (I've already got two!). As Mit wrote (and thanks, Mit, for the inspiration for this post, btw!), it helps to form some kind of discipline about writing/posting every day, and I suppose it's a great way to either establish or maintain a readership because you do this as part of a community. But, I'd be worried about posting meaningless bits of writing just so I can say I posted *something* (not like I've never done that before, on this or my private blog). Besides, I already have too many distractions from getting my book done. I can see myself using this as one more.

Given my poor turnout of posts last month, and given the aspirations to better market my upcoming books anyway, I've been considering reinventing Kairos Calling to include a wider audience (like moving it to my website, removing the Purple Panda pseudonym, and coming all the way out, haha) and to maintain a momentum of writing regularly, even when I'm slammin' busy. We'll see.

In the meantime, for all you bloggers and novels writers up for the challenge, Go for it, and have fun!

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