Saturday, September 22, 2012

Nanowrimo, and those who don't get it

Drinking my typhoo tea, eating popcorn, and I've got a little something stuck in my craw --- no, it's not a popcorn husk.

A few years ago, I became aware of this wonderful event called Nanowrimo...  you write 50k words of fiction, during the calendar month of November.

(Really?  but you haven't written ANY fiction, in well over 30 years, much less 50k in 30d.)
(I know, but something about this event just calls to me.)
(That's absurd.  You can't possibly come up with anything of value, in that short of a time frame.)
(I know...  but look.... right here, it says the idea is quantity, not quality.)
(But what if you don't finish?)
(So, I don't finish.  At least I'll have started.)
(Ok.  And what happens if you do finish?)
(Then, I finish.)
(No, I mean what do you get?)
(Get?  Uhm...  let's see.  Oh yeah, I get a purple ribbon next to my name...)
(Where's that?)
(On the website.)
(So the only people who see the 'purple ribbon', are other people who are doing this?....   What else?)
(Well, I get a link to a page where I could type in my name, and then print out a certificate.)
(So are you going to do that?)
(No... seems kind of cheesy.)
(What else?)
(What else???   Oh yeah!!  I could get a 50% discount on this really cool software called Scrivener!!)
(Scrivener? Never heard of that.  So what's the discount worth?)
(Twenty bucks...  the software is $40, and so the discount is twenty bucks.)
after a pause  (I see.)
(No, I don't think you do.)

So that kind of sums up Nanowrimo for me.

This year, my November schedule is absolutely crazy, and it's full of things that can neither be done in advance, nor put off until December. I was talking to a colleague about this, and laughing at the position I find myself in.  With a straight face, he said "so you're going to start early, of course."  Initially, I assumed he was joking.  Looking at his face, I realized he was not.  "Don't you know me any better than that?  I can't start early."  He shook his head, and walked away, and I realized that OLL (the people who run nano) has left out a piece.  It's not just quantity over quality, but it's also about integrity.  There's no one checking to make sure you don't start early, there's no one checking to make sure that the words you submit are real words, and part of a real story, and there's really 50k of them.  Spelling might not count, and grammar might not count, and plot consistency might not count.....  but integrity counts, big time.

Nanowrimo....  quantity over quality, and integrity above all.

Note:  as I reread this, I realized that - in my imaginary discussion about Nano, I forgot a really important thing that you can get... some potentially excellent, potentially long-lasting friendships.  But then, you get that, whether you finish or not.


  1. You are so right, Laurie. Integrity is an important part of being a WriMo. I've never understood why folks would cheat at something that is only for a personal goal. It's cheating yourself and how does THAT make sense??

    Welcome to Blogger!

  2. Wow Laurie, I love this. So true, the friendship at the top of the pile.

    And yes, I think OLL left out the integrity part. We are accountable only to ourselves. And if we write 100 words or 100,000 - well, we've written, and so we haven't failed. Not at all.

    Thanks for this post!

  3. Plus - you get the fun of finding out where your story goes. As we know, you often end up somewhere you never expected to be.