Photo by Rainer Tenhunen.
For those who’ve never heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), it’s simple: NaNoWriMo is a free event where participants try to complete 50,000 words of a novel in one calendar month (November).
I’m doing it this year, and I’m excited. Even though I already write professionally, it’s too easy to get swept up in immediately gratifying projects like paying freelance work and blogging, and thus avoid the long-term slog of writing a book. In the words of Tom Spurgeon:
There is, however, a distressing trend culture-wide for a lot of people to aim low, to be perfectly satisfied with delighting the 40 people that follow you closely on Facebook with your clever remarks as opposed to finishing that novel. (link)
My personal goal for NaNoWriMo is 1000 words a day, for a final word count of 30,000. If I hit 50,000, so much the better, but I’ll be satisfied with the lower number (I’m not a wordy writer, and have a Thanksgiving road trip and other paying & side writing projects coming up). Also, while blogging here will continue as usual, and I won’t bore you with novel updates, I will be posting writing inspiration & advice each Monday.
So…are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?
I think it’s great that you’re writing a novel, but I find the Spurgeon quote … well, silly, I guess.
What’s wrong with clever words or 40 readers? Clever words delighting “fit audience though few” is La Rochefoucauld’s maxims, which are far superior to acres of novels, including my own. Did Jane Austen have more than 40 readers in her lifetime? Novels are aiming long, I guess, but who knows if it’s “high”? Saki’s perfectly etched little stories survive betten than the triple decker potboilers of his age. Etc. And frankly, having not only written a novel but had it published in two countries, reviewed by major newspapers et al, I don’t even know that I have delighted 40 people, judging by my pitiful sales, and maybe I should have spent all that time on Facebook.
If someone takes pleasure in working out the novel-shaped idea in their mind, that’s great, but if they don’t, there are other things in life.
Renee C. says
First, I didn’t know you were a writer or that you had published a book! That’s wonderful. If you feel like sharing, I’d love to know the book title (but if not, it’s okay).
That said, I disagree with your reading of the Spurgeon quote (though not with your points. Also, YAY! for the Saki reference).
Spurgeon’s not criticizing clever words or small readerships. He’s needling the tendency to be satisfied (in the short term, at least) with doing easy, ephemeral work simply because there’s an appreciative audience. He’s calling out that failure to dream bigger, to simply play to the room at the expense of better & harder goals (whether they entail writing novels or not).
Who knows if a Facebook posting, scraped at Archive.org, is really any more ephemeral than a novel, which will get remaindered and drowned (literally), and become an unsearched query on Google Books?
Who knows if chasing after “bigger” will produce works that are less ephemeral? Delighting a small audience with “ephemeral” works (as Austen did, and Dickinson did, and Mary Sidney did, and La Rochefoucauld did, as comics and rappers and moviemakers did) produced classics that outlasted works undertaken with grander ambitions.
Anyway, I will dismount my hobby horse. Best of luck to you on your novel.
Renee C. says
Aw, thanks Tara! Def. write down those ideas. Then choose one and run with it!
Tara @ The Inspiration Files says
Wow, I have never heard of this… but I like it! Though I am still mulling around story ideas in my head, maybe I should start jotting them down? Best of luck to you and your goal! I know you can do it!!