Friday, October 12, 2007

The Published Author Fantasy Role Playing Game---pepper

I'm stealing the term Published Author Fantasy Role Playing Game (and the concept) from "Uncle Jim," James Macdonald. He's posted about the Published Author Fantasy Role Playing Game more than once at Absolute Write, and I've been thinking about the concept a lot lately, for various reasons. He's usually referring to the people who are able and willing to pay vanity publishers to publish their books just so they can have the "experience" of being a published author. I think the sort of person who indulges in the Published Author Fantasy Role Playing Game isn't just limited to vanity publishers and scams like Publish America.

This is where I come clean with some unpopular opinions.

I hate NaNoWriMo. I don't even think the concept is sound. Yes, the most important of writing that book you've always wanted to write is to sit down and write it...but...well...I think it's a load of rubbish. I'll number my reasons for the benefit of people who want to tear my argument apart.

1)

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.


Writing a novel is nothing but time and effort. I'm not even sure what the point of writing 50,000 words of crap is. Just so you can say you've done it? If you're scared of the time and effort devoted to writing a novel, find a new hobby.

If you want to be an actual author, you will find time to sit down and write. Yeah, life is hard and hectic and full of distractions. But people always find time for what's important to them. Take me, for example. I'm currently working on MA in British and American Literature. This requires about 30 hours a week, in terms of reading, writing, and seminar time. I also teach one writing class with 25 students. We meet 3 times per week, and I've got to have lectures planned, assignments written, and of course, I have grading to do. This is about 10-15 hours of my week. I also write content for websites. This work is tedious and never-ending. I devote about 30 hours a week to it. I also am married and I enjoy spending time with my husband. I'm the only person with a car in my family, so it's up to me to run errands like going to the bank, the grocery store, the post office, etc. And I still write, at a minimum 4 hours a day. Every day. Period. Because it's important to me.

2) 50,000 words is not a novel. It's about 2/3 or 3/4 of a novel. And if it's 50,000 crap words, it's not even much of an accomplishment.

3) It encourages the myth that anybody can be an author.

In 2006, we had over 79,000 participants. Nearly 13,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.


I have a feeling they're dead serious. I can't even really wrap my mind around this belief. If I spend a month practicing first aid on my accident prone sister, does that mean I can call myself a doctor after thirty days?

Sorry, but that's not true. If you don't believe me, volunteer to read somebody's slush pile. Being an effective author is about more than just writing words on paper. You've got to have a handle on genre, voice, tone, characterization, plot, pacing, balance, literature, history, and language. You've got to be an expert in all sorts of ridiculous things ranging from the human body to ancient Greek weapons. You've got to be willing to research--you've got to know how to research. You have to have the fortitude to chuck it all and start over again when something isn't working. You need the patience of a saint.

4)
Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.


Well, at least they acknowledge it. NaNoWriMo produces a whole bunch of first drafts. I hope it's a whole bunch of first drafts that eventually become 2nd, 3rd, and 4th drafts. But when I read people explain why they signed up, it's always "I hope this motivates me to finish this year!" Dude, if you need a special month and contest dedicated to finishing a short novel just for motivation, I seriously wonder how editing will go. Because editing is hard. Editing will make you want to cry. It's brutal, if it's done right. Why isn't December "National Editing Novels Month"?

5) Maybe I should lighten up. It's just for fun, right? Who cares if people spend November writing 2000 words a day and feeling pleased with themselves? Shouldn't I, as a writing teacher, be happy and encourage this sort of thing? Why am I such a fucking Scrooge?

Because every month for me is National Novel Writing Month. Any month I don't complete at least 50,000 words is a month I've failed. Writing is Serious Business for me. And I feel vaguely offended by the notion that "anybody" can write a novel, and the only thing stopping them is not having the time. I've been working full time, treating writing like a career, for about four years now. I have some success by some measures, and no success by others. But I am constantly working to improve myself. I am constantly moving my life around to make time to write. And I strongly, strongly suspect that other professional, successful authors do the same.

Being an author is about making sacrifices and making hard choices. Sure, it's fun. If it wasn't the most fun I've ever had with clothes on, I wouldn't do it. But that doesn't mean I think writing novels should be treated like a game.

NaNoWriMo is just another element of the popular Pubished Author Fantasy Role Playing Game. "It's easy to write a book. It just takes a month of writing 2K a day! How could anything be more simple?"

If you want to write, don't rely on a gimmick to get yourself motivated. You deserve better than that, and so does your novel.

26 comments:

Will Belegon said...

While I have varying feelings about what you addressed here, there is at least one place where I agree with you whole-heartedly and without reservation.

"Dude, if you need a special month and contest dedicated to finishing a short novel just for motivation, I seriously wonder how editing will go. Because editing is hard. Editing will make you want to cry. It's brutal, if it's done right."

Not only is it hard to do, it's hard to find. It's even hard to find within myself. As an editor, I have to constantly remind myself to not skip over things to keep from hurting feelings. Yes, I try very hard to present changes in a positive and diplomatic manner. But if I skip something I perceive as a problem, I'm doing the author a disservice.

Pepper Espinoza said...

I wish more editors would avoid skipping over problems in order to save author's feelings. My editors walk on water and I adore them, but there are certain ebooks out there that could still use some serious, serious work...Even on the level of typos and misspellings.

J M McDermott said...

You and I see eye to eye on this.

Books take more than a month. In fact mine seem to take about a year each - and that's not counting the midtime between re-writes where I put them away to see them again later with fresh eyes.

This whole festival is like one giant slushpile nightmare, to me. I wonder if slushpiles increase in December and January noticably due to NaNoWriMo

Erastes said...

I played once, but that was when i was writing my first novel, and it coincided with the writing of that - but I do agree. I thought that people took it seriously but having recently read the "tricks that people use" - citing and quoting large chunks of work, never using contractions and other such things - it's just a bloody game, it's fanfic. And it seriously should be called "write a novella" rather than a novel.

But people are sheep, and I've been a sheep many times in fandom, if everyone else is joining there's something primal in people - you have to join too!

kirsten saell said...

Bleh, I've never been a joiner. Gimmicks aren't my bag. As soon as I got myself a laptop and didn't have to wrestle with my kids for computer time, my output went way up. Three months and I sold my first novella.

For me, it isn't about being in some ridiculous club. It's about putting out words--maybe not every day, but consistently--and having something finished in my hand that someone's willing to pay me for.

Writing is a joy. I don't need anyone to tell me to do it. I certainly don't need a bunch of wannabes with short skirts and pompons cheering me on or telling me how great I am because I'm one of 13000 "superstars."

You want to write a novel? Sit down and write one. You don't need anyone's permission.

Fae Sutherland said...

There's lots of different reasons people participate in NaNo. Some, yes, just do it to say they "wrote a book" even if it's 50k of nonsensical garbage. Hey, whatever floats their boat.

I, personally, participate because it's fun. I like the community of it. Writing is such a solitary profession and even though 50k a month is pretty much the bare minimum of what I write every month, I like to participate because I enjoy the comraderie. You can tell on the forums and at write-ins who there is serious about it and who there is just wanting to play the writer game. It's no game to me. I'm writing something I intend to publish.

Nano isn't for everyone. But then, neither is being a full time writer. There's nothing wrong, imo, with people who don't have what it takes to write full time to take a month and pretend they're writers. Who does it harm? A hundred Nanoers can say they wrote a book, but you and I and every writer out there who does this every day of the year knows better. Let them have their fantasy game.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

Well, I've always had a problem with the whole NaNaNo thing and I wasn't really sure why.
Thanks for giving it some words.
I do think it motivates people to really get busy writing, but then, I've never been very good at the whole word count game.
Then again, I've yet to publish something over 50K.

Sam said...

I could never do NaNoWriMo. Never, ever. I have no pretensions of being a novelist. I can't fathom keeping continuity for 300 or more pages. When I write, I write sonnets and 100-word stories about eating and death.

But when I was in college, I took an entry-level creative writing course. I did fairly well on most of the assignments. Then, one day, the professor decided to have us all write for five minutes, in class, about our thumbs. I may have eked out two badly-formed sentences. Even the short stuff, for me, takes time and thought. I would be absolutely in awe of anyone who could crank out 50,000 quality words in one month.

There's no way the majority of NaNoWriMo's participants are going to do that.

Mya said...

I used to (and kinda still do) think that I was soooo slow when it came to writing. NaNo in general seemed too daunting for me. It takes me anywhere from 6-8 months to finish a novel.

Bernita said...

With all due respect to those who enjoy/find value in the thing, I agree with you.
Entirely.
I'll be working, as usual, on something I hope to sell.

Fae Sutherland said...

Oh. And there is a National Novel Editing Month. It's in January.

Pepper Espinoza said...

I wonder if slushpiles increase in December and January noticably due to NaNoWriMo

I would bet money that it does. The organizers of NaNo encourages the "winners" to submit their stuff. I don't know if they do it explicitly, but they add stories of NaNo successes, and they claim that professional writers take part of the contest as well (which is probably true). Both things give the hopeful writer dreams of publishing contracts.


"tricks that people use" - citing and quoting large chunks of work, never using contractions and other such things - it's just a bloody game, it's fanfic. And it seriously should be called "write a novella" rather than a novel.

Ugh, ugh, ugh. These are the sort of stunts my students pull when I give them a minimum page or word count. It's not something a serious writer does--but hey, according to NaNo, they're all novelists by the end of the month! I don't know, maybe it wouldn't bother me so much if they didn't use those particular terms, or reframed their "What's it all about." But why should I expect organizers of a writing contest to be precise with their language or careful with their word choice?

I certainly don't need a bunch of wannabes with short skirts and pompons cheering me on or telling me how great I am because I'm one of 13000 "superstars."

See, the thing for me is that I know writers need encouragement. I don't ever, ever ever say anything that could shut-down or stifle one of my students. When my friends need help, I'm the biggest cheerleader you will ever meet. I don't hold back on encouragement if I see somebody needs some. But at the same time, I feel like if you need a month-long pep-rally to get you hyped to write, you shouldn't be writing! You should find a hobby you are actually passionate about.

Then again, I've yet to publish something over 50K.

I don't really like their emphasis on word count. Because, like I said, it's not a novel. But also, the word count shouldn't be some arbitrary number. You should write your story in the amount of space it needs. 50K isn't a victory. 100K isn't a victory. 25K isn't a victory. A victory is a complete, well-written, engaging, edited story.

I can't fathom keeping continuity for 300 or more pages.

But that's the beauty of Nano! You only need to do 175 pages! *rolleyes*


There's no way the majority of NaNoWriMo's participants are going to do that.


Indeed. And I don't think we should encourage people to churn out crap. And we certainly shouldn't claim that by reaching this arbitrary goal, in an arbitrary period of time, it's a huge achievement.

Some, yes, just do it to say they "wrote a book" even if it's 50k of nonsensical garbage. Hey, whatever floats their boat.

I don't have a problem with people writing because it makes them happy. I have a problem with the whole attitude of NaNo, its organizers, and some of its participants.

I like to participate because I enjoy the comraderie.

I'm not convinced that the community is such a great thing. There are plenty of online communities of actual writers that you could spend time at. Or you could organize a writer's group in your area that meets once a month or so. I'm not saying you're doing anything wrong by seeking out a community through the NaNo participants, but NaNo is hardly the only place where you can find that camaraderie.

There's nothing wrong, imo, with people who don't have what it takes to write full time to take a month and pretend they're writers.

Well, maybe I overthink things (ok,I no doubt do), but I think there is harm in it. Because you are talking about two different sets of people here. People who don't have "what it takes" to write, and people who don't have "what it takes" to write full-time. But NaNo is so popular (I see it all over the blogsphere, various writing and non-writing message boards, and my LJ friends page) that it seems to play into everybody's secretly held belief that writing is easy.

Do you know what happens to people who believe writing is easy and anybody can do it? They churn out crap books. And then they think it should be published. And they fall victim to a wide variety of frauds from Publish America to scam agents to scam editing services to more. NaNo participants are ripe for this sort of fraud. If I preyed on people, I'd prey on writers---or wannabe writers who are told they are novelists, and now it's just a matter of time before they become published.

Oh. And there is a National Novel Editing Month. It's in January.

At the risk of sounding childish, I never heard of it. Allow me to clarify. From sign-up day for NaNo until around Dec 2, I see posts about NaNo every freaking where. The damned thing haunts me. Message boards that have nothing to do with writing 11 months of the year come alive with NaNo excitement in November. People have those damned tickers on their websites, livejournals, and blogs. There are special parties and message boards and local get-togethers. and every year it gets bigger and bigger.

And yet, I've never heard of National Editing month.

I suspect, strongly, that if those "novelists" have heard of it, they don't care. Why should they? They're not taking this seriously. It's just a game.

Maybe it shouldn't bother me that my chosen profession is just "a game" to people, but it does.

fae sutherland said...

I understand your POV and fully respect that NaNo and the Author Roleplaying Game bothers you. To a certain extent it does me as well.

I guess I'm just wary of making it seem like being a writer is some exclusive club and you can only join if you do it this way, but not that way. It just smacks of elitism to me and kinda makes me twitch. Not that I think *you're* elitist, lord no lol, because I do see where you're coming from.

But I also see where the hoards of 'just for fun' nanoers are coming from. They are enjoying themselves. In all reality the majority of them know what they are writing is not intended for public consumption and they are fine with that.

But professional writers do participate, NaNo does encourage young writers to try something maybe they wouldn't otherwise, and that, imo, is a good thing. I'm all for people trying new things.

So if a NaNoer wants to tell me they're an author too because they wrote 50k in November, I'm not going to burst their bubble. It makes them happy. And maybe they *will* revise that 50k into a book. Maybe it'll just sit in their drawer. Maybe it'll get inflicted on a few agents before thye get the hint that it's not gonna be published. It seems something less than bothersome to me if that is the case.

I feel like I ought to riddle this with smileys, because tone in text can be hard to come across. I do understand where you're coming from and your opinion is very much shared by a lot of folks. *smiles* I just don't happen to be one.

Pepper Espinoza said...

I do understand where you're coming from and your opinion is very much shared by a lot of folks. *smiles* I just don't happen to be one.

Eh, I'm honestly surprised by the number of people who posted who do agree with me. In the circles I move in, everybody seems to accept that NaNo is just the best thing since sliced bread.

I guess I'm just wary of making it seem like being a writer is some exclusive club and you can only join if you do it this way, but not that way.

Heh, I started by writing fanfic, and now I write erotic romance (sometimes gay!)--how elitist can I be? (I know you're not calling me a snob. the idea just made me laugh). I'm sure there's a blog out there right now (well more than one) detailing the evils of writing fanfic. I don't want to make being an author an exclusive club. Hell, I don't want to turn into the sort of people I know in the MFA department--by their standards, I have no business writing either.

I remember when NaNo first started, and I didn't have a hint of problem with it. But every year, my unease grows. It unapologetically dismisses the reality of what it takes to write a novel, and that's just never going to sit right with me.

kirsten saell said...

I don't know. I just feel like there are some careers you go into out of convenience, or because you don't really feel strongly about any one thing: bank teller, bookkeeper, meat cutter, retail sales.

Other things: sculptor, doctor, lawyer, author, singer, actor, astronaut--these are things people should feel strongly enough about going into that they don't need a gimmick to convince them.

I'm all for encouraging and supporting those who are truly determined to succeed in any creative field. But there comes a point when you're just encouraging people to kid themselves. Anyone who's watched the primary rounds of American Idol will agree, not everyone has the talent to be a singer, and encouraging someone's self-delusion can be one of the cruelest things you can do. Well, not everyone has the talent (or the determination or the drive or the meticulousness) to be an author. I'm still not 100% sure I have what it takes, either--but when I find out, it will be by my own impetus, not because I jumped on some feel-good, aren't-we-great, give-me-a-sticker-cause-I'm-special bandwagon.

Angelia Sparrow said...

I do Nano. I do Julno. I do PorNoWriMo. I can usually get two and a half novels written during them.

And yes, 50K is a novel, by most of my publishers' standards.

I enjoy the community (I do write-ins when I can), and the good excuse.
"Hon, I had a 12 hr work day, and still have to get 1000 more words tonight. Make the kids do the dishes." (I can't use it year round. Three months of the year is pushing it.)

Besides, rest of the year, I'm working on a dozen things at a time. For NaNo, it's all about one item. No short stories. No novellas.

Pepper Espinoza said...

And yes, 50K is a novel, by most of my publishers' standards.

How are you defining that? Epublishers? YA publishers? Category romance publishers? Because publishers will have specific definitions, but by and large, 175 pages is not an appropriate novel length for major print pubs.

(I can't use it year round. Three months of the year is pushing it.)

Why?

Marguerite Labbe said...

I've done Nano for years now and rarely do I succeed. At first I did it because for 20 years I was a poet, not a novelist. I'd start stories but never finish them because I was spending too much time analyzing every word I wrote, the rhythm of each sentence and not the story as a whole.

However, I'm very competitive. The first year I tried it, I didn't find out about it until the last week of November. I didn't get very far, but I sat down and plotted out an outline for the first time in a long time. I had gotten myself into a huge block that had lasted for several years. My family and friends were all pushing me to get published and I was afraid, insecure and sure that I wasn't ready and the next thing I knew I couldn't write one word.

That got me motivated though and I started writing again, fun stories with friends that were just for me. It was very therapeutic.

The next year I bombed again, sorta. I suppose technically according to the rules I lost. I didn't get anywhere near the 50k mark and I quit that particular story 3 weeks into it. I hated my main character. I honestly wanted the serial killer to off him. However, the last week this idea for a story which had been mulling around in the back of my mind decided that it had to be written. So I sat down and wrote two pages describing the characters, setting and what I knew of the plot and I shared it with one of my best friends and the woman who I wrote all those fun little stories with and she demanded that I let her write it with me because on my own I’d never get it done. *winks at Fae* How well she knows me. At the time I wouldn’t have gotten it done and I really, really wanted to tell this story.

So we sat down and we wrote it. It ended up being 164k. Competition helps me to free flow better so does writing with a partner. The editing was a huge amount of work and we’re not done yet. There are still some parts that can be refined and pruned. Honestly, I love editing. I like going back and fine tuning, even when I have to do it 4 or 5 times to get it right. The same core story is there, but it’s better and with each edit I can see it getting better even if sometimes I wonder whether or not it’s time to cease and submit.

Last year I wasn’t worried about trying to write a novel in a month. I’d already proven to myself that I can. I like the companionship. I’ve met some wonderful people because of it. It was those people who led me to ERWF. This year I’ve already met another individual who really enjoys the craft of writing and the craft of editing. I’m hoping to pick up some grammar tips from him because he’s a professional editor. This year again, I’m not worried about really finishing the 50k. I know myself well enough as a writer that I’m probably not going to finish it. I just don’t write as quickly as some people do. I never have. However, I have learned that I don’t have to nit pick everything to death when I first get it down. I’ll do enough of that in the editing stage. Besides, the story I'm working on will not even be close to being done at 50k. I think it's going to end up being somewhere between 150-200k. Who knows how long it's going to take me.

As for National Editing Month, it’s fairly new and not very organized. I participated last year and I’ll probably do so again this year. The premise is it takes 50 hours to edit a novel so if you take your Nano novel and spend the 50 hours editing it then it should be ready to be sent out. *Rolls eyes.* It’s very similar to the 50k worth of words being a novel. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would be that I put more than 50 hours worth of editing into each book. I’m still working on editing the novel I finished last year. Yeah, it’s bullshit in many ways, but it’s fun and I’m very grateful for the few people I’ve meet through it.

(*snorts* Now how long winded and pompus was that.)

cheryl anne gardner said...

I am not much for fanfic, but whatever gets you motivated I guess. But I do think that fanfic stunts original thinking.

And I hate when stories are rigidly classified by word count. The actual words matter, not how many -- quality not quantity. Georges Battile wrote short explosive erotic psychologically intense novels around 50k or less. He is classified as one of the most genius erotic writers of the twentieth century. And I have read 600 pagers by more well known authors that bored me to tears.

I write novellas by their true definition. They are not short novels and have strict restrictions of their own. Sometimes, it takes me an entire day just to get 600 quality words. Not to mention 5-6 months to edit my 25k novellas. All serious writers know a good story will be as long as it has to be and will take as many words as are required, no more, no less. It just is what it is. We have all read way too many books with repetitious filler to make page count.

But, as Oliverio Girondo said, "Writers write because they cannot stop."

And on editing, well, have you ever seen any of Proust's lengthy bouts with editing. I have! Editing is the only way a rough draft improves. I don't know of any writer who could whip out a perfect manuscript in one go. A story matures the longer we live with it, and our writing matures along way as well.

I don't want to be a novelist; I just want to write a damn good, nasty, intense story with some sort of deeper meaning. I think all true writers want that. And they make the time to do it, even if it's in the middle of the night with a flashlight and notepad.

kirsten saell said...

And they make the time to do it, even if it's in the middle of the night with a flashlight and notepad.

Before I was married, I spent about three hours a day in a lawn chair between two cars in my dad's heated garage, chain-smoking and writing longhand on graph paper. You do find the time if you really want it.

Time limits and minimum word counts put emphasis on exactly the wrong things. As a rule, an author should spend as much time as necessary to make a story all it can be, using as few words as possible.

Angelia Sparrow said...

Pepper,
I write for e-publishers. Torquere Press, Phaze, Ellora's Cave and Circle Dark. All of them define novel as 45,000 words and up.

I have a fair number of 120 page paperbacks on my shelves in a variety of genres. They tend to be older books, though. Somewhere in the 70's someone decided longer was better.

Why can't I use the excuse year round? Because I need to contribute as much to household upkeep as I require of the other five people in the family. It's only fair.

If I slack for a month every now and then to write a novel all at a go (instead of taking 2-3 months), it can easily be remedied in the next months.

If I slack off on housework EVERY month, I lose the kids to DHS for environmental neglect (worst case), or the family hates me for never helping (best case).

Pepper Espinoza said...

I have a fair number of 120 page paperbacks on my shelves in a variety of genres. They tend to be older books, though. Somewhere in the 70's someone decided longer was better.

I didn't mean the actual page count of the paperback books, I meant the page count of the MS upon submission. NaNo mentions 175 pages on their website, so I had assumed they do the 250 words/page count, but that would be 200 pages, not 175. So I have no idea where they get 175 pages from...

Vivien Dean said...

No offense, Angelia, but it's still possible to write intensively and not feel like you're slacking off with family. I have 2 kids, 5 and 7, with school, music lessons, sports, the works. I also have a husband who travels extensively for his job; it's not uncommon for him to disappear to India for 4 weeks at a time, usually several times a year. When he is home, he commutes and is gone 7a-7p, 5 days a week. So that means the bulk of running kids around, housework, bills, and the like falls on my shoulders. And I still manage to write a minimum of 3k a day, 48 weeks a year. It's all about time management and drive. I've even been known to write on my husband's Blackberry when we were standing in line for rides at Legoland last spring.

I'm with many of the other commenters here on how they view Nano. What I would hope people use Nano for is to develop discipline in writing every day - because a writer writes, period - and for overcoming personal blocks to completing stories - like endless self-editing along the way. Those kinds of skills shouldn't be abandoned once the month is over, but it almost feels like Nano gives writers permission to do that.

Dusk Peterson said...

"Writing is Serious Business for me."

Well, that's really what your post comes down to, doesn't it? The trouble is, writing isn't a serious business for everyone. For some people, it's fun. Just fun. There's a room in this world for hobbyists, I believe. Not everyone in the world needs to be a professional train conductor; some of us can just play with trains on our rugs.

As it happens, I'm a professional writer, and I've never taken part in NaNoWriMo. But I tend to think it's a bad idea to shake your finger at folks who are having fun and aren't hurting anyone else, just because their idea of fun doesn't match yours. (As an erotic fiction writer, I have some pretty strong feelings on that subject.)

I also think that you're missing the point of which serious writers this sort of approach might be helpful to: the ones who have gotten themselves so paralyzed at the thought of producing perfect copy on the first try that they've produced no copy at all. The problems you face as a writer evidently aren't the same as theirs, which is why you find NaNoWriMo useless, and they find it helpful.

Now, I fully agree with you that those "it's easy to write a book" guides are misleading. But that's because they too have a one-size-fits-all solution to writing. You say that writing is always hard, for every writer in the universe. They say that writing is always easy, for every writer in the universe. The truth isn't that simple. For some authors, writing is excruciatingly hard; for some authors, it's incredibly easy; and for most of us, it's somewhere in the middle, or a mixture of experiences, depending on the story or the time of life.

Your post very much reminds me of the writing books I read as a child: "You must outline! You must have your plot all worked out before you put a single word down on paper!" Good advice for some writers. But those writing books didn't leave room for the possibility that not all writers work in the same way, and that some authors might find different approaches helpful. I do think that tolerance toward different approaches and different goals is one of the hallmarks of a good teacher, so I hope you'll insert a little of that into your classroom instruction. :)

"50,000 words is not a novel."

Angelia Sparrow is correct: 50,000 words is a novel in some genres. In fact, if you look at older science fiction novels, you'll be hard pressed to find many that are much above that wordage (because the novels were originally published in pulp magazines, where small was better). Times have changed, of course; long novels are valued more now. But pulp magazines are still central in the SF/F world, and so the Nebula Awards, issued by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, still follows the traditional SF/F definition of a novel.

This is a demonstration of why it's a really bad idea to make absolutist statements. You can only know the particular publishers you work with, just as you can only know the particular writing methods that work for you or your friends or students. That doesn't mean that there aren't other publishers and writers out there who work differently, in a fully successful professional manner.

Anne Douglas said...

""Writing is Serious Business for me."

Well, that's really what your post comes down to, doesn't it? "

I'd agree with this. Alison Kent et al (if I've used that correctly) have started up their Sweat70 challenge, and I think, in essence it is more useful to the writer than Nano nec is. There is a goal - but it's the one you set, and the point of it is to get yourself, as a writer, into the habit of writing everyday at a sustainable rate that produces valid work. At the end of the day, for people who treat this as their job, it's a much better ethic - and there is a certain sense of community.

That said, I did the first sweat70 (never done a NaNoWriMo, and don't intend to), but don't intend on doing the second. Maybe come time they do the third I'll jump back on again. I learned lessons from the first one, which was the whole point of it. I don't nec need to learn them again.

Emily Veinglory said...

I have very mixed feelings anout NaNo but it is fitting that my first paperback novel is coming out around this time of year--it started as a NaNo

http://tinyurl.com/26hx3l

But I wouldn't do it again.