Wednesday, October 11, 2006

231. oops, I'm going to do it again

So November is coming around and I'm having mad thoughts of doing the National Novel Writing Month again. If you were around reading my blog last November, you might remember that my first crack at the title was about as much fun as riding the Tour de France with hemorrhoids (see blog 117 for an example...caution, potty mouth).

I suppose that's part of the genius of the event. It happens once-per-year, just enough time so that you forget how much you hated participating the year before.

I'm hoping this year will be more of a success for a bunch of reasons. One, I'm in the heart of a very creative city. There's a lot of amazing art and lots of culture to experience and I'm hoping that will serve as a rich source of inspiration. Two, I've read that Seattle has a lot of writers in residence (maybe because of all the rain?) and I'm hoping the NaNoWriMo will be a way for me to tap into this community. A quick visit to their bulletin board told me that there are a couple meeting/writing places already set up for the event in the Seattle area. One near West Seattle, where I live. Three, I'm hoping this will be a way for me to get even more serious about my writing and to further my dreams of publication (see blog 229).

Four, I'm going into the event knowing I'm going to be breaking one of the "rules." Sort of.

From the FAQs section of the NaNoWriMo website:

How do you define "novel?" Does fan fiction count? What if I want to write interconnected short stories rather than a novel? What if my story is largely autobiographical, or is based on a real person? Can I still write it in November?
We define a novel as "a lengthy work of fiction." Beyond that, we let you decide whether what you're writing falls under the heading of "novel." In short: If you believe you're writing a novel, we believe you're writing a novel too.

Well, I know I won't be writing a novel and I won't even pretend to call it that. At best it will be a collection of short stories that might be interconnected, but just as likely will not be. What I mean is, I'm going into this year's NaNo knowing that I'm not writing a novel. I'm writing a collection of short stories.

Part of what killed me last year was the ridiculous notion that I had to be writing a NOVEL to participate. I spent way too much time trying to construct these large narrative arcs when that's just not how I write. I mean, the very word, "novel," scares the crap out of me. Writing something that big sounds too much like work. Looking back now, I see that I was being far too anal retentive about the rules. I mean for crying out loud, it's a free event and if I "won," all they'd give me is a web icon and some kind of certificate.

So this year, I'm not going to even pretend that I'm writing a novel. I am writing a collection of short stories and there's nothing anybody at NaNoWriMo can do about it. I mean even if they "disqualify" me for not writing an actual novel (which they won't do because they only verify word count - they don't actually read the submissions), I'll still be left with a mountain of raw story material that I can sift through later for refining.

Now a bit of bad news for my readers. I'm not planning on posting the stories as I write them. Since I'm hoping to end up with material I can send out to publishers (maybe journals or magazines), I want to keep it out of the public eye. Call it hubris, call it paranoia, call it selfish, call it a greedy capitalist mindset, call it whatever you want but I see it as the first tentative step towards a more professional writer's ethic.


Well, wish me luck and pray that I get these stories published so you can read them!

PS. For now, I'm still leaving up the stories I have posted at LoneTomato Sauce, but I might be axing that site as well. Read them while you can.


Tropical Screamer said...

Yeah, it's funny how "rules" can box the brain in, isn't it?

I write what I please. This is my third year and I do write novels. But I write them with the full knowledge that no other human being will ever see a word of them. (I do share bits and pieces if I write something I love, but not very often.)

The joy of the whole thing for me is writing without any boundaries. No internal editor. No intent to publish. Just the pure joy of writing.

I hope you enjoy yourself this year.

(Speedbump on the NaNo board)

WS Blog said...

Hey, you're not alone! We skipped last year but plan to jump in again this time around.