Thursday, 17 October 2013

Doing It All Wrong

I was dared to take part in this year's NaNoWriMo event, whereby you write a whole novel in one month.

Whether it's a good novel or a piece of absolute tosh doesn't matter. The objective is to commit, and finish it, in one month. I've totally rejected the idea before, but something just got me, with this dare, to sort of go "NER NER NER NER" and prove that I can.

There are a few issues though. Apparently what most people enjoy about it is the interaction with other writers. I don't have the time for that. I have no idea how I'm going to fit in writing a novel, let alone any sort of discussion about it. But at least with just writing I can schedule, get up early, skip the blog, and knuckle down. Discussions are notorious time-wasters, and they will not be happening.

Apart from that, I have no desire or need to discuss it. It'll either happen, or it won't, it'll either work, or it won't. Apparently I am missing something, because I simply don't "get" the point of this discussion aspect.

The other thing is, I write in straight lines. I start at the beginning, move along bit by bit, then get to the end. Admittedly I've never reached the end of anything (hence the challenge) but that's how I write. In some ways this is well suited to a writing challenge where you start and stop on a given date, but from what I've been told you are actually supposed to be writing a draft, not a really finished, finished novel.

I don't write drafts. I don't know how to. I've never been able to. I have an idea for a story, I know more or less what I want to do with it, you know, the version you'd see on the back of the cover, and then I just....write. It comes as it comes.

Anyway, it's the middle of October and I have got as far as that. I had no intention of sharing the idea with anyone up front, but I got talked into it.

What it is basically is a historical fiction feminist story. Set against the bitter end of the Minoan civilization, it's a story of a girl growing up with a mind of her own. She resists her culture because she objects to its patriarchy. We know next to nothing about the Minoan patriarchy so I have pretty much free reign, but I think those bulls give us some clues. Anyway, I foolishly shared a few ideas I had and was told it wasn't feminist enough.

Pardon me?

Apparently it's not got enough inner conflict or angst.

This criticism has been especially helpful, so clearly there is SOME value in discussion. Because let me tell you about inner conflict and angst. We don't need your steenkin' inner conflict and angst. The whole point here is that she is a strong-minded girl, a forge-ahead girl, a do-it-on-your-own-terms girl. A decisive girl.

That's the whole fucking point.

And why? Because anyone will tell you "WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW". I'm using myself as her character, duh. I don't do inner conflict and angst. More to the more I don't wish to read about inner conflict and angst and I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

If there is a reason we need feminism, it's because of this ridiculous stereotype that women are all muddle-headed and fluffy. Well, no, they aren't. Actually.

The next bit is the silliest. I was going to write each day in a blog, so that you lot could watch the story develop. Apparently I should not do that. I'm supposed to wait until the end of November and then submit the story to NaNoWriMo. So anyone could do that, and cheat, and say it took a month when they'd been working on it for 3 years. I suppose they could do that on a blog anyway.

But the idea is, you hope someone will publish it. Apparently many of these books get published. I'm not sure I like that idea, that my weakest, most rushed piece of work could be what introduces the world to me.

I am still not "getting" this. I'll write a novel, I'll send it in, challenge accepted, but it makes no sense whatsoever.


  1. I needed to feel free to write bad and clean it up later. It was very freeing for me. This year my goal is to complete a long piece of work. I've never done it before. So it will be beyond 50k.

    I consider myself both muddle headed and fluffy, but I am also eager to learn new things and nerdy. I am a Christian feminist, which makes some of my older "people" gristle, I think. I think a woman should be free to make her choice of what she wants to do. If she wants to go to college, get a degree and become a stay at home mom right away-go for it. If she wants to delay family, go for it. If she doesn't want a family--go for it. If she wants to work and have a family, by all means.

    I thought the feminist movement was about choices. And....I will step off my soap box before I put my foot in my mouth.

    Anyway, I like the comraderie (sp?) of NaNoWriMo. It helps me immensely.

  2. Not only is the feminist movement about choices, I had that whacked out idea that was writing was about too :) So being told I had to write a rough draft seemed to fly in the face of that!

  3. I tried it once but simply ran out of time. I could't commit. I never know from one day to the next whether or not I will have any time available. You can tell by the blog. Have a good time with it, Melanie.

    1. I get up early. I have a heavy schedule but it is of my own making, so I am able to make time. This is effectively my downtime.

  4. Too bad we won't be allowed to follow along. I always thought the Minoans were quite woman-friendly, going by those cheerful frescos. Those women with the snakes around their bodies, bare breasted? Certainly more so than the Greek jerks that followed them.

    1. Some think they were matrinlineal. I am imagining what happens when a society like that breaks down.

  5. Once it's written and sent in then the edits start. None of those books is published without polishing. It's a process. If you ever do wish to be published you should do this to introduce you to the process. Good luck, I hope it works out for you.

    1. In my case editing will involve making it interesting I think.

  6. Who told you that you needed a rough draft? Who cares? Some people make it up as they go along. I know of at least one person who is writing short stories for the whole month. Nanowrimo is just fun. Most of it is wretched and won't ever be published. Some of it will be published and it's a little embarrassing. It's all good fun--at least it is for me.

    1. I'm not seeing the fun part. My system is thus: I get up early, write a chapter. Read it through for typos, then show it to Tom. He does the same. His is already better than mine.