Friday, December 14, 2012

Nano: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Yes, I know, Nanowrimo 2012 has been over for two weeks now, I should move on.  But it is such an overwhelming experience, and I keep finding thoughts creeping into my head.

I think I'll do this in reverse order, and start with the ugly.
That's easy.  The 'ugly', is what you're left with, when you wake up on December 1.  No, I don't mean the dishes piled up in the sink, or the laundry in the hamper, or even the clutter on your desk at work.  I mean the 500, or 50,000, or 150,000 words that you wrote.  I don't care who you are, I don't care what else you've written before, those words that you've cranked out under the looming deadline of nano -- they're pretty ugly.  They may very well have potential, perhaps huge potential.  But on December 1, they're just plain ugly.

Next, is the bad thing about nano.  For those of you who know me, you're probably gasping in amazement, at the notion that I might consider there to be anything bad about nanowrimo.  I've been a huge fan of this event, since I first became aware of it.  But, there are some negatives.  Hmm...  I guess I have to amend that.  There is one negative about nano.  I don't mind my cluttered desk (to be honest, it's often cluttered the rest of the year, as well), I don't mind the loss of sleep, the reduced time on Words with Friends is ok, and I'm even ok with the the lack of time to post to Teapot Musings.
The negative about nano, is that I don't feel that I can take the time to read.  Don't get me wrong, I still listen to my recorded books while in the car - after all, I can't very well write while I'm driving (although I am thinking about trying Dragon Dictate, next year)..  but as for reading a book, either paper or digital..  I go the entire month without doing that.  And I miss it.  You see, I enjoy writing, but I TRULY enjoy reading what others have written.
Is there anything that OLL, the people who run nano, can do, to accommodate this issue? Of course not.
Do I miss reading enough, that I'll quit doing nano?  No.
But I still miss reading, in November.

 And then there is the good thing about nano. 
The people who run nano, and whose job it is to promote nano, will tell you that the wonderful thing about nano is it encourages you to put away all those excuses (no time, no ideas, the sun is in my eyes), so that you get something on paper.  Until you have something on paper, you have nothing, and the idea of writing a truly good, publishable, sellable, profitable novel -- perhaps the Great American Novel -- is just too daunting, for most of us.  You can't 'fix' nothing.  But - once you have something, now you can fix it.  You can make it into something big, and something good.  You've got something you can edit, cut, flesh out and, ultimately, perfect.

But for me, that's not the good thing about nano.  That's not what made me do nano the first time, and it's not what has made me do nano, each time since.  Although it's possible that I might get around to editing in the future, at this point I write, I share my writing with a select few, and I put the writing aside.
No, the good thing about nano is the way this huge goal, with this impending deadline, gets the adrenaline flowing, and the creative juices pumping.  I like goals, I like deadlines.  Goals can be met, deadlines can be complied with.  In a world where 'quality' is subjective and can be hard to define,  dates and numbers are very clear, very black and white.  But there's more.  For me to compete in the 2016 Olympics is an impossible goal, with or without the deadline.  For me to get my holiday shopping done in time has both a goal and a deadline, but leaves me without any feeling of accomplishment.  Nano presents a difficult - but not impossible - goal, with a difficult - but not impossible - deadline.    While I'm writing, I feel the excitement of the challenge, and the surge of adrenaline.  And when December 1 rolls around, I feel the 'down' left in the wake of the adrenaline surge.  But in its place, is this wonderful sense of accomplishment.  Even in the year I didn't finish until a few days into December, I still felt the sense of accomplishment.  Oddly enough, my enthusiasm for nano is at its highest, in December.  Sure, I'm enthusiastic in October, as I anticipate the next month, but in October, the enthusiasm is mixed with anticipation of what's to come, a bit of anxiety at perhaps not being up to the task, and occasionally some level of dread as to how I'm going to be able to juggle everything.  In December, the enthusiasm for nano is pure, untainted enthusiasm.  And that's good, too.

For those who are interested, YES, I am a huge Client Eastwood fan, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is one of my favorite movies.  And as a bit of trivia, the original Italian title of the movie was actually The Good, The Ugly, and the Bad.  Sure am glad they fixed that.   And now, I'll go fix a cup of tea.  Not that it's broken, but you know what I mean.

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