National Novel Writing Month Again

If you happen to be flying American Airlines in the next few weeks, you might see my name briefly mentioned in an article about NaNoWriMo. For the earthbound set, there is the online version.

Funny how I have more distribution power on my little computer than Gutenberg did back when he was pulling proofs of the 42-line bible, but it is still exciting to see your name in print. Print that ran in presses and smells like ink.

The reporter, Angela Chang, asked me about opposition to NaNoWriMo during my interview. I was a little surprised. I mean, there is a lot to be annoyed by in people’s self-rightoues interest in themselves and everything they output. But even a cynic like myself has a hard time seeing a downside to giving people a forum to start writing, no matter the outcome.

Eric Rosenfield does. He wrote a post with the commanding title “Why I Hate NaNoWriMo, and Why You Should To.” Mr. Rosenfield didn’t convince me. Nor his readers, judging by the comments. But this one thing I couldn’t leave alone:

[NaNoWriMo] pollutes the world with volumes upon volumes of one-off novels by people who don’t really care about novel writing.

Unless he has trouble keeping himself off the animated-gif homepages of hundred’s of Live Journal users, I’m not sure what the pollution is. Bits are cheap and plentiful. And if the books make it past the publishing phase, then the beef isn’t with the instigating month, but the publishers who put out such work.

I suspect Mr. Rosenfield is pining for a more monastic writer. It seems to me he attaches the romantic aesthetic to the process, which is understandable because a great many writers do as well. Maybe he’s thinking of a writer of great talent and mystery like William Gaddis. Hard to imagine him dashing anything off so casually. But then, it’s not so hard to imagine Kerouac doing it, or Fitzgerald. Tolstoy, no. Dumas, yes. Need we go on? The field of the written word is so massive that it seems ludicrous to try and contain it within your own small vision of what should and shouldn’t be.

Francis Ford Coppola once claimed that the next great American movie might just come from a teenage girl in an Iowa cornfield. I say the next great American novel might just come from a young writer up against the time clock with NaNoWriMo. It will be a novel of its time. It will certainly be a novel of its technology.

As the word changes and evolves with the changes in our culture, and by the new means of communication, what a novel is will change. Perhaps that’s disturbing to Mr. Rosenfield, but I find it exciting.

And, of course, I’m thrilled to be a part of it all again. My screen name is Mr. Lowry and, as usual, I have an excerpt up.


Posted by: Martin McClellan
On the date of: November 4, 2007 10:20 PM
im in ur wrimo, pullutin ur internets.
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