Thursday, November 2, 2006

NaNoWriMo's the name, a novel is the game

It’s that little voice inside her that tells her she shouldn’t write, that her writing is silly and that she should just stop right now. She’s even named the voice … Pyra.

But this is November. National Novel Writing Month (the cool kids call it NaNoWriMo). When thousands of folks like Woestehoff take the challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. So, Woestehoff has no time to deal with Pyra, her internal editor.

“I send her off, letting her know that I dislike her very much and want her to go away,” the Greeley writer said. “If she doesn’t leave, I just don’t pay attention to her. If what I write is horrible, that’s okay.”

Quanitity over quality. That’s what it’s about for NaNo-ers, or NaNo-ites or whatever their sleep-reduced, over-caffeinated brains call themselves. It’s not about writing good … err, I mean well. It’s just about writing. Getting words on paper. At least 1,667 per day.

NaNo (as the cooler kids call it) was founded by Chris Baty in Oakland, Calif., who started with 21 writers in 1999 (only six finished). Thanks to the power of the Net, word(s) spread and aimless would-be authors from around the world have come together on More than 75,000 writers are expected to participate this year.

“It is a great creative outlet that sets restrictions on editing yourself, and I really need that,” said Andy Segal of Greeley who finished his first novel last year in November and is working on his second for this year.

But all of this incredible word production comes at a cost because there are just so many hours in a day. The dog will walk himself. The dishes will get done in December. Sleep? Over-rated. Friends and family? They probably already know you’re a little nuts. And those Must-See TV shows become Must-Tivo.

“Housekeeping definitely slips,” said Robin Dean of Fort Collins, “But I’m embarrassed to admit that I also lose pretty much all contact with my friends who aren’t doing NaNo during the month.”

When November is over, when the words have all been counted and winners (those who cross the 50,000-word mark) are celebrated, what do these fatigued word generators earn?

Not much really. They can print out a certificate. And most, like Woestehoff, will print out their novels (usually about 100-150 pages) and use up a bunch of printer toner. “I will definitely take it around with me everywhere I go and brag and force my friends to acknowledge it, and then they give me the ‘She’s crazy’ look behind my back,” she said.

[Jared Fiel / NEXTnc]

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