One of the suggestions put forth by the folks at NaNoWriMo to help you actually finish the novel started on November first is to tell everyone you know and the random guy walking down the street that you’re writing a novel. The theory is that the more people who know, the more people you will also have to admit failure to when November 30th comes around and you’ve only written 10 000 words. It’s a good theory. And, for some people, it probably works quite well!
However, there is a consequence to telling everyone you know that you’re writing a novel. There are Questions. And lots of them! But, mostly they’re the same questions. Some of them I like. Some of them I don’t like. At all.
Questions I like answering about my novel:
q: How is the writing going?
a: Great! I love that I’m writing again, ‘stretching the muscles’, so to speak, muscles that haven’t been worked in far too long. I am so glad that I decide to do NaNoWriMo again.
q: What’s your wordcount?
a: 34836. As of this morning, after my commute in to work. I am on par! Which means I’m on track to finish on time and with all the words I need.
q: Is your novel good?
a: No. I am not a genius. But maybe it will be someday! Mostly, it’s just a pile of boring drivel. Editing is for December.
q: Why NaNoWriMo?
a: Because it is a great way to get back into shape. I haven’t written any fiction in a long time, so it feels amazing to actually be intentional about spending some time in being creative, and being creative within my set of God-given gifts and skills. Also, NaNoWriMo is a challenge that just… appeals to me. Gets me excited.
Questions I don’t like answering about my novel:
q: What is it about?
a: I cringe when this question comes up. I avoid it, which is pretty easy with most other writers. “Oh, I don’t really have a plot,” is actually an acceptable response to this question when you’re doing NaNoWriMo. And it could be true. But mostly it’s an avoidance tactic because even people who start without plots end up with one by day 21.
The problem is, I think my novel sounds really stupid. Cliched, maybe. The basic premise is actually kind of cool, but the basic premise is the twist, so I can’t say what the basic premise is without giving away the only reason to read it. Not that I want people reading it. But maybe someday I will! So, mostly, when this question comes up, I avoid it. Redirect. Sometimes, depending on who it is, I’ll answer honestly, explain the whole thing and end up being reassured that, really, I’m not an idiot! Somehow, those experiences don’t actually help to build up my confidence for the next time the question comes up.
Despite writing here, on this blog, five days a week, despite being able to hold your attention, I have zero confidence about my writing.
a: This is different than the ‘Why NaNoWriMo’ question above. It comes from a less supportive place. I’ve experienced it far less often this time around than I did in 2003, when I was the weird kid who read books and wrote stories in high school. It’s a question that sneers. It’s a question that’s confused, not by the challenge, but by the activity itself. Why would you do this? What is the point? What are you going to get out of it?
It’s also a question that no one might actually be asking, but that I may sometimes ask myself. This is the question to ignore. Because I am going to get potentially nothing out of this. There may be no point. There is no answer to this question.
But I don’t care. And that’s enough.