Thursday, October 21, 2010

To NaNo or not to NaNo?

Hello Junkies!  Oh, how I've missed you!

I've been revising my little (well, not so little) tooshie off and doing a whole lot more writing than reading.

And all this writing and revising brings me to my latest conundrum: to NaNo or not to NaNo?  I'll admit it, I'm a NaNo virgin.

As you probably all know, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal is for writers across the country to turn off their inner editors and write copious amounts of fiction with reckless abandon.  The specific goal is 50,000 words in 30 days.

Every November for the last couple of years, I've watched others participate in the project and I've had the same reaction year after year: Aww, aren't they cute?

Last year, two of my co-workers (fellow English teachers) sent out an email explaining NaNoWriMo, pledging their goals, and inviting others to participate.

I scoffed.  I'm a real writer.  I've been banging my head against the keyboard every single day for years.  I don't need a designated month to pretend to be a writer.

My coworkers went on to talk about their "novels" they wrote in November.  They had family members actually read their NaNo draft!  Scoff, scoff, scoff. 

This all seemed so silly.  I'm a serious writer (don't even say writing about kids with magic powers is not serious).  I don't need some internet uncontest in order to torture myself over prose.  I do that everyday anyway.

But the thing is, I kind of want to do it.

I'm currently querying agents for a ms, so my revising is done for now and I really need something to prevent me from going crazy checking my email every ten seconds.  And I have this new bright shiny idea I want to play with.  Part of me thinks it's a stupid, unmarketable idea, but I can spare a month to see where it goes, right?

But what about all my scoffing?  Am I cheapening myself as a writer by participating?  (ok, I'm an unagented, unpublished writer, so really I'm already as cheapened as they come).

But the interwebs are full of positive tid bits promoting NaNo.

Did you know Carrie Ryan wrote the first draft of The Forest of Hands and Teeth as a NaNo project?  I love The Forest of Hands and Teeth!

And I'm all about the shitty first draft philosophy.  I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pantser and for me it's about just getting SOMETHING on the page to work with when writing a first (or second, or third...) draft.  And that's what NaNo's all about, right?

Then I stumbled across this image from commenter Kristen on Nathan Bransford's post about NaNo.

Well, I take my novel-writing seriously.  And I've finished two novels, but I've never had writing deadlines, so the latter is definitely scarier.  What's a girl to do?

Also, the public aspect of NaNo frightens me.  I believe in Stephen King's advice from On Writing: "Write with the door closed.  Revise with the door open."

My first drafts are so private.  I don't even like trying to explain what I'm writing about until I'm ready to pitch.  I'm afraid I'll feel like I'm peeing with the door open if I'm constantly posting word counts and such.

And what about my scoffing?  How hypocritical am I if I do NaNo after all my internal scoffing?  (ok, there's lots of reasons I could be considered hypocritical, but still)

But then see inspiring videos  like the one below from Jackson Pearce that make me start jumping in my seat and whining, "I wanna do it Tooooooo."

When it comes down to it, these are my concerns:

What if I fail?  I'm not good at failing.  I know this is supposed to be an everyone is a winner type of thing, but if I commit to doing this and don't have 50,000 words by Novemeber 30th, then I'll probably hate myself a little.  At least for a day or two.

Really, I don't have time.  But then again, that's never stopped me from doing anything.

What if the other NaNoers don't like me? (I did scoff at them)  I keep hearing about this great NaNo community, which only triggers my social phobia/paranoia.  What if I'm rejected by the NaNo clique?

OK, so I'd love to hear from experienced NaNo participants.  Should I do it?  Are there other NaNo virgins out there thinking of going all the way?