A couple of days ago an author friend of mine made this simple statement on Facebook: “I don’t understand NaNo“. He just threw the statement out there and I read the comments that came in first with interest and then with an open mouth because I couldn’t believe the ferocity of feeling it generated – it appears that you either love NaNo or you hate it, there’s no middle ground. None at all. Nada. Nothing. And there was me thinking authors were a balanced bunch who could see other people’s point of view. Tsk. Silly me.
The comment that surprised me the most was this from an indie author:
“I always think if you can write that much, just do it all the time. Plus a lot of people turn out garbage to keep up the word count. Just my opinion, but I think it’s ridiculous.”
Ridiculous?! At least with Marmite if people say they don’t like it then the chances are they’ve tried it. How can anyone say it’s ridiculous without ever having tried it? My hackles were raised I have to say, so I feel I have to stand up and explain to the doubters why NaNo is not ridiculous and, in the process, also explain why it’s not always possible to ‘just do it all the time’. In a balanced way, of course.
I happen to love Marmite and I love NaNo (although there are times when I’m struggling I could cheerfully smack the creator of NaNoWriMo with a large wooden spoon for having devised such a torturous event…). My good friend Stuart Wakefield introduced me to NaNo in 2010. From that one small initial NaNo meeting in Caffe Nero we met Brigid and Jane and the four of us started Writebulb, a writing group, in Chelmsford. Our very first speaker was Penelope Fletcher, a young indie author, who spoke to us about self-publishing. Heavens above, what a revelation that was! As Penelope talked I just knew it was something I wanted to do and as soon as I left the meeting I started self-publishing – me, who barely knew what a Kindle was! Here I am four years later – over 190,000 of my books have been downloaded and I’ve loved every step of the journey. Yes, that meeting in Caffe Nero’s four years ago was a catalyst like no other! Way to go NaNo.
There is another reason why I like NaNo so much, but it’s more personal. This year has been very busy and sometimes difficult. I’ve moved house, leaving the home I’d lived in for 24 years, into a house that needs a lot of work done to it. In addition, my father’s Alzheimers has deteriorated rapidly; he still lives in his own home but I am responsible for him and most evenings after work (I commute to London) I go and check on him and see how he is. I’ve tried to write, to keep up on social media but have failed miserably throughout the year – but the time I get home, unpack yet another box or paint (or even knock down) another wall, go to help my dad find whatever he’s lost, and then have some supper I’m usually too tired to do anything other than go to bed! When Emma contacted me to see if I would contribute to the blog it was like a ray of light shining through the dark (thank you Emma!) but then I thought hold on, I’d better sign up to NaNo if I’m going to write about it and immediately I did that panic set in. How would I cope? When would I find the time? Would stress finally overwhelm me? Nuhuh. Not one bit. The only feeling that’s overwhelming me is that I’m finally back doing something I love. I’m not stressed by trying to write 50,000 words because if I don’t make the target, I don’t make it. That feeling of creating something has made me feel happy. Simple.
So – do you love NaNo or do you hate it?
If you still think you’d hate it then I’d ask you to read this blog again because what I’m saying in a nutshell is that NaNo will give you the opportunity to go on a journey, to meet interesting people, to find support and encouragement, to learn new things, to spark that creative fire inside you and to give you a sense of achievement. It’s pretty damn good stuff.
If you already love it then hold fast – you’re now over half way through and we will all celebrate together when it’s over. I’ll bring the toast and Marmite! Good luck everyone.