Woke up and heard the rain bucketing down, the wind thrashing around in the trees and tried to clear my throat as I turned over under the quilt. The flu is back, my immune system low and I have a fever and sore throat.
Being self-employed means dealing with an unsympathetic boss. So I am swaddled in blankets and full of analgesics, bribing myself to stay in front of the computer with promises of hot lemon drinks and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Yesterday along with Pam and several thousand other lunatics, I signed up early for this year’s Nanowrimo.
Sigh. I hate trying to explain this. You either get the point or you are sane and cannot understand it at all. Some years ago, a few wanna-be writers got together and decided to dedicate a site to National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) and encouraged other would-be writers to try and complete a 50 000 word novel in the month of November. No prizes, no point in cheating, no consideration for the quality of the writing. It was just an ordeal, a marathon of writing to a word count.
Unsurprisingly, thousands of us signed up and Nanowrimo is now an annual Internet institution.
There is a category for ‘literary fiction’ and nothing indicates more aptly quite how absurd Nanowrimo is. You can’t write literary fiction in great chunks of hasty prose. But we all do it anyway –we get our plot outlines ready, we list our characters, we link up with other absurdists and we all commit to this nonsense because it is such fun.
Writing is lonely and the odds of getting a good sentence or two down on paper after a day alone at the computer are slim. But at Nanowrimo, there is a writing jamboree in full swing with everyone spewing out hopelessly bad sentences and all of us promising ourselves we will go back and revise.
The idea is that it breaks through writer’s block. I am not sure it does. It is a junkfest. Everyone plays at being a writer and agonises in forums and offers advice, and nobody is critical of anyody’s efforts, especially our own. The trick is to reach a total of 50 000 words by the last day of November and there is no time for polishing or revising if you want to reach that word count.
Writing fast and uncritically is a liberating sensation. Maybe it does work for some. Novels have been published based on drafts produced during Nanowrimo. Groups of crime writers and sci-fi aficionados get together and encourage each other to the finishing line. There are regional parties held offline, and people make new friends, find mentors, suck up to publishers, fall in love. Writers’ support groups are formed.
As I noted at the start of this post, the concept either resonates with you or it doesn’t. It makes no sense to me at all. But I shall be doing it for the third year running and hope to see a few other sober speedwriters there too…
Now it is raining again and I am going to go out and hang up wet towels and sheets before having some grated ginger and fresh lemon juice with boiling water, a spoonful of honey and clove or two. This is a day for indulging in the absurd. But at least I can sip my lemon toddy and know it isn’t full of Scotch and I am no longer ‘medicating’ myself with alcohol and turning my whole life into absurdity.