On National Novel Writing Month and appreciating novels

October 22, 2015 at 2:11 am Leave a comment

nanowrimo-posterAh, autumn. The falling leaves. The freshly sharpened pencils. The scarves and boots. The crisp back in the air. And, for many, the maddening crunch of writing the next great American novel.

Held every November, National Novel Writing Month is billed as “30 days and nights of literary abandon” wherein participants have thirty days to write a full novel. Or the draft of one anyway.

One of my favorite things about National Novel Writing Month is how it forces participants to stop and seriously contemplate the creation of a novel. I think for readers (and book bloggers in particular), it is easy to get so wrapped up in the reading and the critique of novels that we often forget just how hard they are to create. It’s no mean feat to sit down and create something entirely new. And, once you do that, it is even harder to go back and edit that something new into something readable.

National Novel Writing Month is 30 days of nonstop reality checks for prospective novelists. Without fail, every year I come away from the experience with a renewed respect for actual, published authors. Even the most mundane of novels, the ones whose very implausibility or poor vocabulary make me crazy, the ones that seem to be written by a monkey, the ones that had so much promise but then just fell apart — they were all written by someone. Someone who had the motivation, dedication, and drive to not just write a full book, but to see their work through the arduous publication process to print.

The mere existence and continuation of novels is actually fairly miraculous, particularly in the current state of print publishing. And, for 30 days and nights, National Novel Writing Month reminds me of that miracle in the most immediate and personal way possible.

I’m looking forward to next month’s descent into madness both for the opportunity it always presents for enforced daily creativity, but also for the annual reminder to appreciate that which we often take for granted: the novel itself. It’s one of my favorite things on earth, so before I get totally harried and worn out from novel-writing next month, I want to send a little thank you out into the ether. Thank you, authors of genius and authors of dubious talent, for each and every one of your novels. They have changed my life and for that I thank you.


Entry filed under: Musings and Essays. Tags: , , , .

‘The Post-Birthday World’ by Lionel Shriver ‘The Hour I First Believed’ by Wally Lamb

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