Monday, 10 December 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 - Journey of a Dying Art

As the world of the modern human moves from paper to screen; from written text to moving pixels and from pages to air, I find myself asking "Am I joining a dying art, by beginning my writing journey now?  Will anyone actually read books in ten, fifteen, twenty years from now?"

And then I discovered my own answer within me.  Some people like to tend plants, or watch television, or breed fluffy cats and dogs (and snakes - maybe not so fluffy!).  I like to write.  I love to write!  Who cares if fewer people appreciate good grammar these days?  Who cares if thousands will approach a book and say "TL;DR, where's the punchline?"  Perhaps the internet has become the drug of the modern age; the "Quick Fix" at lunchtime; get your injection of humour or cute kittens on YouTube and move on.  Perhaps I'm just over-exaggerating.  If you're reading this, you may find yourself in an ever-reducing percentile.  Who knows?

The first time I tried NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for those of you who don't like acronyms), back in 2008, I failed miserably.  What I mean by that is that I didn't reach the 50,000 word target and I spent most of November miserable.

I tried again in 2010 and 2011, but both times I wrote very little, really - hardly enough in 2011 to really count as having entered NaNoWriMo at all.

So what's changed?

Well, for a start, I'm older and more mature... Well, older at least.  I also joined an online community of writers this year that really helped.  Writing can be quite a lonely sport.  Having a group of similar-minded people to bounce ideas off and share the odd tale of writing mishap with makes a big difference, especially when they're as friendly and accommodating as the LimeBirdWriters.

LimeBirdWriters - A Welcoming Online Writer's Community

This year's NaNoWriMo has had its ups and downs.  I've had entire days off writing due to other commitments or simply being lazy.  I've had the panic of realising I've only got a week left and then the joy of realising I've finally caught up enough to make winning a real possibility and then a certainty.

And yes, I did have a LimeBirdVanessa moment (You might have to sign up to the LimeBirds forum to see this forum post: Somebody run me a cold shower please).  The story I'm writing - a tale of space piracy and comradery and growing up and mainly space piracy - is aimed at children aged around 12, 13.  I think adding an intimate love scene between two of the main characters might push the age boundary a bit too high!  I was tempted to write the scene anyway, just to see if I could, but it went against too many ideas in my mind about how these two characters should act and I was worried I might permanently damage my impression of them if I proceeded!

The story you're writing?  Didn't you say you reached 50,000 words?

Yes, 50,000 words; the target for NaNoWriMo.  Reached!  I'm a winner!  Sadly though, that only measures the quantity of text, rather than the quality.  There's a saying that if you give them long enough, an infinite number of monkeys could write out the works of Shakespeare.  That's not to say that monkeys write badly - perhaps they just prefer writing about zombies or vampires.  And imagine the amount of bananas you'd need to feed an infinite number of monkeys!

Where was I?  Oh yes.  Well the point is, although I've finished NaNoWriMo as a winner, I still have a way to go before I can let anyone read my story.  It's all in bits and there are some big plot holes that need to be filled and I expect some of it is probably from another story entirely that's managed to tear its way through the thin veil that separates ideas.


I have a new fondness for reading as a result of having written so many words in one go.   Even the most rubbish trashy novel or chick flick has had, at some point, days of work put into them.  And I mean days.

I've already put nearly a month's worth of evenings into my story and I'm probably only halfway towards an actual finished book that someone would be happy to read.  I fully intend to finish it, though.   The thing is, it's actually really good fun!

Have you ever taken part in NaNoWriMo?  
Do you feel writing is becoming a dying art, or is the birth of the internet and the age of instant gratification simply another chapter in the history of literature?


  1. Great post! :)

    TL;DR? - Fellow Redditor?

    1. Thanks, LimeBirds! I just discovered yet another reason not to use Blogger... I can't reply via my phone! It just doesn't seem to work :(

      Oh well.

      Nope, I got TL;DR from a friend of mine who does Reddit (has Reddit?), but it really seemed to epitomise my theory that reading is dying out - TL;DR. Too lazy, Don'tlike Reading. People just want to skip to the end now! What do you think?

  2. A legend, Lord Scree, and in your own lunchtime.

    1. Haha, thanks. If I'm honest, I started writing this post just after NaNoWriMo at the end of November and only got around to finishing it today.

  3. I don't think reading is dying - look at the popularity of eReaders. Although some readers may be converted by the convenience of audiobooks, the author's role is pretty much the same (although I'm aware of a new subgenre of audio dramas, essentially radio shows coming from the direction of audiobooks...)

    Writing is awesome but reading is easier and not everyone likes telly.

    1. Hi Pete, You're right that not everyone likes telly. I count myself among that group, although some TV shows like The Wire (cops and drugs) and True Blood (vampires, sex and drugs) draw me in from time to time.

      I take your point that, regardless of the end medium, all TV shows, Films, books, pod casts and even toilet graffiti has to have been written at some point, so the author's role remains constant and in demand.

      Thanks for your comment!