Thursday, November 4, 2010

Getting my author-ly undies in a bunch

Now that election season is over here in the U.S., we need to find other things to debate. A hot one right now? NaNoWriMo.

Really? you say, what on earth is there to debate about NaNo? Either do it or don't, right?
Two columnists weigh in:

Better yet, DON'T write that novel

12 reasons to ignore the naysayers: Do NaNoWriMo

I have to say, I started reading the anti-NaNo article with the expectation of seeing the other complaints I've heard about NaNo (including the common, "if you don't meet you 50K goal, then you've failed; so you're setting yourself up for failure and that's the last thing you need").

But instead, her article came across as very anti-new writer. Although she states in the article that she's "not saying she doesn't hope more novels are written," that is actually how it comes across. As a matter of fact, it seemed to me that she was saying she hopes new novels are written by her already favorite (and presumably best-selling authors) . . . and the rest of us writers can bugger off. Too bad. Her favorite authors were once where we are right now. And what happens when those bestselling writers finally succumb to age? Then she'll give up reading and spend her time watching "Dancing with the Stars?"

I know, I know. I'm using a bit of hyperbole. But the whole thing really ticked me off. I'm sure it's not how she intended it (or I hope it's not how she meant it, anyway). But when you write things like, "It was yet another depressing sign that the cultural spaces once dedicated to the selfless art of reading are being taken over by the narcissistic commerce of writing," it's going to tick people off. Narcissistic commerce of writing? Really? Selfless art of reading? Not without the narcissistic commerce of writing.

She does make some good points:

1) There are a lot of "how to write" books out there, many of them written by folks who have never had a single thing published. Would you want a football coach who had never played the game?

2) And yes, an awful lot of wanna-be writers say things like, "I don't have time to read." But you know what? The chances of running into a published piece from those writers is slim because writers who don't study the craft by reading the works of others usually have a harder time finding pubication success.

3) Readers deserve a celebratory gala, too. This whole thing is a symbiotic relationship: readers need writers; writers need readers. That is a point on which we all can agree.

Be sure to check out the rebuttal article, too. I heartily agree with everything Carolyn Kellogg has to say.

Hurrah for NaNoWriMo!

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