I participated in National Novel Writing Month and wrote slightly more than fifty thousand words of fiction during November.
Even though the screen shot above is of my story, I find the picture a little intimidating. It makes my-still-unnamed-tale look as if it is a massive project. It never felt like that while I was writing it perhaps because I used Scrivener (which is an amazing program for working with long documents) rather than Word.
Regardless, after having completed the challenge, my primary impression of it is this: it is easy. If you can meet the following two requirements, you too can write fifty thousand words of fiction in a month.
The first thing you need is a vague story idea.
The second is time. But it’s not a lot of time, just about 90 minutes almost every day. I’ll even go so far as to say that if you devoted two hours to writing—take note: not to editing and not to thinking about writing, but to actually writing—every day, you would be hard-pressed not to reach that magical number of fifty thousand in a month. It’s just that easy.
And that leads me to one of NaNo’s less thrilling aspects. The challenge has absolutely nothing to do with quality and everything to do with word count. NaNo is fundamentally not about producing something matters, being thoughtful, or even just rethinking parts of one’s story so that it’s better. Any writing challenge that does nothing to address, not so much quality, but revision is a bit wtf. Revision is an essential part of writing and it’s hard; writing something with substance is likewise hard. But, again, NaNo doesn’t care about those important things. It’s only about how many words one can vomit out of her head. That’s a huge problem, but everyone has to start somewhere and for those who have trouble with simply writing habitually, NaNo does help with that.
At any rate, a couple weeks ago, I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It was much better than I thought it would be, but I had low expectations. I like it because it was easy to read, extraordinarily interesting, and not at all misogynistic. I wish that they’d stuck with the original title in English, Men Who Hate Women, but … Anyway, along with the story, I found the author’s experiences and motivations for writing the trilogy interesting. As a teenager he witnessed a violent sexual crime and did nothing to stop it.
I read five books in November and I’m looking for another to read fairly soon. I may finish Larsson’s trilogy or go for another from the short list I created in May. I love suggestions and am always open to them—it will probably just take me a while to get around to what’s suggested.
At this moment, I’m strongly considering picking one or maybe even some the following:
- A Fable by Faulkner (somehow I haven’t already read this!)
- Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
- Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener
- My favorite author’s (Geraldine Brooks) newest book that I still haven’t read, Caleb’s Crossing.
- The Poisonwood Bible because I already bought it
- Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
- My Korean choice is 우행시 (우리들의 행복한 시간) which I own, but I don’t have a good track record with finishing Korean novels written for adults