Cross-posting from the Write in the Shadows blog today.
First off: I have voted today (it’s 7:45 a.m.)–have you? Do it!
I would mention how many writers are participating this year, but the number is so gargantuan that the whole NaNo website is one frantic writer short of crashing as I’m writing this about 10 p.m. on Monday, and I got tired of waiting for it to load. Let’s just say the number is ginormous and the word count with three hours to go before the Day One cutoff was more than 55 million words. Good Lord. How scary is that?
I did NaNo last year. This year, I was “sitting on G and ready for O” when a savvy blog reader (you know who you are, Matt) pointed out that I don’t qualify. You see, I’m revising an existing manuscript on a deadline and, in the NaNoSphere, revisions are frowned upon and don’t count, as it turns out.
In the Suzanne-o-Sphere, revisions trump hastily produced bad first drafts.
And as I watched the #NaNo hashtag on Twitter off and on throughout the day yesterday, it made me rethink the whole NaNo thing. The writers were all a’twitter (so to speak) about their NaNo projects. The editors and agents were, shall we say, not so a’twitter at all.
One agent seemed to best sum up the opinion of the industry pros. She said that while NaNo is a good exercise for writers in getting butt-in-chair and working on a productive schedule, it was hard for her not to notice the bump in submissions she received in December and January–submissions of not-very-good manuscripts that had been popped out in thirty days, given a quick read-through and submitted.
And, basically, that seemed the gist of it. “Winning” at NaNo does not a finished novel make, and the editors and especially agents bear the brunt of it when we as writers don’t realize that.
Will I ever do NaNo again? Maybe, even though it took me much, much longer to revise my 2009 NaNoMess than if I’d written the novel like a normal, sane person. Like any other writing tool, NaNo has its place. It enforces discipline and helps us realize how many superfluous things (ahem, Twitter) could be cut back to make more time for writing. That’s a good lesson to re-learn every now and then.
So this year, you can find me on NaNo (as suzannej3523). You can even be my buddy. But when you see my word counts, know they’re revisions, not new words, and that I’m there as a form of self-discipline, not to produce a
craptacular first draft masterpiece.
So, who’s doing NaNo? What preparations did you make ahead of the Nov. 1 start? What do you hope to end up with?