It’s been three days since NaNoWriMo started, and even I am surprised at the lack of posts I have about it here. I’m not really sure why I’m not posting about it, really. Maybe it’s because I’m just plain busy (which I am), maybe I have no plot to talk about (partly true), or maybe I’ve just decided that I’ve blogged enough about it and I don’t need to really blog about it again (I’ve blogged about it here, anyway). It’s no secret to anyone who’s been following my blog (and the four, five who read this regularly) — I love NaNoWriMo. I cannot stress that enough.
So it kind of breaks my heart when I read some articles like this (and I kind of hate that I’m linking it, but I guess I have to) that slams something that has made my November for the past six years happier and crazier, and has allowed me to meet some of the most inspiring people I’ve known. Truth be told, the article kind of depressed me a bit, and wonder about how people can be so harsh about something that makes people of all ages write? What’s so wrong about attempting to write a novel in a month?
And then I started to read the comments. Then I felt better because I realized that I’m not alone in feeling indignant. Misery (well, if you can call that misery) does love company! :P
Before I even heard of NaNoWriMo, I’ve been writing a lot. I wrote short stories, I had plots for novels and even some nonfiction books. I dreamed of being a writer, and I dreamed of seeing books with my name on the cover in the bookstores, but I got sidetracked by real life. In college, I attempted to write but I hardly finished anything because I always felt they weren’t good. I wasn’t brave enough to keep writing and I never had a looming deadline to give me discipline to write everyday. It was typical “One Day Novelist” syndrome: “One Day, I’ll write a novel.” When is that day? Whenever.
I think the most important lesson that NaNoWriMo has taught me is there’s never a perfect first draft. I’ve read blog posts of some of my favorite writers and other popular authors nowadays and they all say the same thing: the first draft is always ugly. I take comfort in that and despite all the screams of my inner editor, I write. I write for myself, I write for the people in my region who look up to me as their Municipal Liaison. NaNoWriMo has taught me the beauty of allowing myself to make mistakes and just keep going, because I know I can always go back to it later if I want to, after I have finished it from start to finish. The important thing for me right now, as a writer, is to get them written. What was that I always tell our Filipino participants? Oh yeah, this one: don’t get it right, get it written.
And isn’t that what all writers should really start with? Even just wannabe writers who decided to jump and join the fun? Hello, fun?
And just a little rebuttal to the author of the article: I believe NaNoWriMo is not just a celebration for writers, but also for readers. Granted, not even 10% of the NaNoWriMo novels written in November gets to see the light of publishing day, but hey, I doubt these people who join NaNoWriMo are not readers, too. There may be a small percentage of non-readers there, but I’m pretty sure majority of those who join and enjoy the challenge and actually finish and return are readers, too. Perhaps they may not be the readers that you think (you know, those who read novels that are written by the authors that you also approve of), but they still read. And isn’t that really the point of it? Would you rather that people do not read if they’re not reading the “right” novels? In the same vein, would you rather people not write if they’re not writing the next great (insert your nationality here) novel?
I know I’m probably writing a bunch of crap this month about mythical creatures and Orlando vacation packages, just like I’ve done for the past six years, but at least I’m writing and I’m enjoying it. I’m not letting a pretentious article from someone who’s probably never even tried joining NaNoWriMo to discourage me from doing something that I love.