So you can read my books

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

THE DEAD Discuss NaNoWriMo_IWSG post

The ghost of Hemingway scowled at his cards.

"Bad hand?" asked the ghost of Mark Twain, his eyes twinkling with mischief.

"Bad season" Hemingway gruffed.  

"Damn NaNoNites are wasting a whole month vomiting out quantity not quality."

"Their choice," I said, looking at a hand full of jokers I was sure Mark had double-dealt me.

F. Scott Fitzgerald sighed and sipped his champagne.  "They are making a gimmick of an art form."

The ghost of Jung frowned at his own cards, 

and I had a suspicion that Mark had jury-rigged another hand.

Jung said, 

"Perhaps it is the herd mentality which possesses mankind.  It can be harmful if the individual gives into it unthinkingly."

I said, "It gives stimulus to many to write each day."

Hemingway chewed his cigar.  

"If you need a kick in the pants to write, you are a wannabe not a writer." 

The ghost of Roger Zelazny said, 

"I made myself write three times during each day and insisted on completing at least a page each sitting.  

Not even close to 50,000 words a month, but I wrote a good many novels.  Even won an award or two."

Hemingway snorted, "And now, you are forgotten."

Roger shook his head.  "Roland still reads me."

Hemingway scowled, "Roland doesn't count."

"You must be talking to my past dates," I smiled 

and then sighed as I drew yet another Joker for the one I discarded.

Mark ignored my dirty look and said, 

"Words realize nothing, vivify nothing to you, 

unless you have suffered in your own person the thing which your words are trying to describe.  

And to do that, you must live not chain yourself to a desk!"

He lit his own cigar, saying

"I read that NaNo electronic page.  Why they say: 'You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing.'  

Am I the only sane person here to think 'writing a lot of crap' does not sound like a particularly fruitful way to spend an entire month, 

even if it is November?"

Mark shook his head.

"To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. 

Lord, to condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence is worthy of a prize just by itself."

He sighed, 
"Anybody can have ideas -- the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph."

I said, "They say that they can go back and edit ...."

Hemingway looked like he was going to slug me.  

"I have gone to their site, too.  'The world needs your novel' is their motto.  

The world does not NEED badly thought-through novels.  The world only needs to breathe, eat, and sleep."

Fitzgerald nodded,

"The joy of writing is not in deadlines and word counts, but in taking time to shape your work: 

to sit and let the ideas flow and then, when they ebb away, retreat from your keyboard 

until the next surge washes new fragments of story into your head."

Jung turned to me.  "What do you think, Roland."

"I believe writing is not a sprint but a marathon, 

a way of life for every day of each year, not just a competition for a month.  But that's just me."

Jung stroked his chin.

"I believe this competition, where word counts are paramount, forms bad writing habits. 

Habits such as overusing adjectives or bloating the pages with needless description. 

It takes 28 days to form a habit, Roland, so you can see how November can become a hothouse for writing problems."

I nodded, "Many think that NaNo made writing feel achievable."

Hemingway growled, 

"I put a gun to your child's head and say 'Write 50,000 words or I pull the trigger.'  

You will write that many words.  It is all a matter of motivation.  If you do not burn to write, you are a dreamer not a writer."

Jung frowned,

"No one convinced of the worth of this contest is going to be dissuaded by your words.  

Sad fact actually.  

You see, if their goal is to increase creativity, this contest will not help them.  Research has shown that anticipating evaluation -- 

even the mild stimulus of the Winner's Badge to pin on their electronic newsletter-- 

has a negative effect on creative performance."

Fitzgerald murmured,

"I am concerned for these NaNites. 

I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than they are prepared to pay at present.

 You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. 

This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, 

when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.

 This is the experience of all writers. 

It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his whole childhood. 

Ernest’s first stories ‘In Our Time’ went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known. 

In ‘This Side of Paradise’ I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.

And all of this takes time to distill into just the right magical words to conjure the images in the minds of the readers.  

Throwing them like dice onto the felt of the written page just will not do."

Roger nodded his head.

"Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be one.

 If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before, 

you have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before, 

so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter—as indissolubly as if they were conceived together"

Mark smiled at me.  "What do you think, Roland?"

I scowled at him.  "I think you've been dealing from a deck of 52 Jokers."

He blew a smoke ring at me.  "That's the story of life, son.  The story of life." 


  1. Hi Roland ... I have to say I couldn't do NaNo ... but I'm not writing novels - it seems to work for some.

    The TED talk ... is clever isn't it - thanks for sharing with us ... love the Einstein bit ... and the thinking out of the box.

    Innovation and creativity are essential ... stand out in the crowd ...

    Cheers Hilary

    1. Innovation and Creativity are elements of the individual not the group to my way of thinking, But I am roundly criticized for my feelings about this contest.

  2. Since I wrote two of my books utilizing NaNo, I guess some of us just need the motivation.

    1. I feel your dream fed your writing not the contest you decided to enter. Something inside you said: Now is the time to write that novel you've been dreaming of.

      You just used the beginning of the contest as a starting point. :-)

  3. At this point, I'd be happy with a whole day of writing. I couldn't even imagine a month.

    1. I try for the Roger Zelazny method - to write at least 3 times during the day -- if only a paragraph. If you write only 1 page a day, in a year, you will have written a novel! :-)

      Best of luck with your writing, Diane!

  4. That's a hysterical take on NaNo! I like the idea of writing three times a day, no matter how short. I might have to try that.

    1. Inch by inch and it's a cinch as they say. :-)

  5. "Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be." Love that line! I know so many people who think the opposite.

    1. We are what we do -- whether it is writing or dreaming, right? :-)

  6. I'm with Fitzgerald on his take of NaNo. I just don't like the idea.

    1. I do not have a month to waste just slapping words together. So many act as if they had all the time in the world. But we are allotted just a finite amount of minutes.

      What did Shakespeare write?

      “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me;
      For now hath time made me his numbering clock:
      My thoughts are minutes; and with sighs they jar
      Their watches on unto mine eyes."

      We are craftsmen (women) and each word, like a nailed board, must be set into the whole carefully to make a construct worthy of the readers' time.

      Thanks for being my constant friend, Roland

  7. That was a really fun debate. I'd love to have been in the room. Like Jung says, the idea is to form a habit. You don't have to write that many words each month, you just have to write each day.

    1. I have fun conversations in my head with the ghosts of those writers I admire! Yes, no diets, no fads, just daily life styles! :-)

  8. Food for thought.
    My hubby always says: If a million people agree on something and 10 people disagree; it could mean there are a million fools.

    Thanks for the gift, Roland! Much appreciated!

    1. I hope you enjoy it, Michelle. :-) Mark Twain said: "When you find yourself in the majority, it is time to rethink your position!:

  9. With each year that passes, I run across more and more NaNo participants who use the contest as a way to stay on track with their in-progress novels. Technically, that’s not playing by the rules, but whatever works. NaNo is certainly a waste of time for me. Won twice and was twice left with the only manuscript copy I ever circular filed. I still encourage writers to try NaNo. It teaches a lot about individual process. For me, it took two NaNos. For most participants one year is probably enough. :)

    VR Barkowski

    1. If you are not going to play by the rules, why enter the contest? I mean, how can you say you won if you did that?

      We need to self-discipline as writers, for if we ever sign a contract, the publishing company will expect us to not play at writing but do it as a job.

      Just my take, and I know it is an unpopular one. Life is too short to throw away a month to me.

      I always enjoy your comments.

  10. A most interesting 'take' on NaNo, can't say that I disagree. I did it once, so I have the 'been there, done that' experience. don't think it's worth another go round. Like was said quantity simply cannot replace quality. Unfortunately, I feel the same about the A to Z blog challenge. Just not for me.

    1. It just seems commonsense to realize you cannot do a quality job if you rush it. Going back to fix the manuscript entails more time and effort than simply doing it well from the start.

      A TO Z posts I believe can be written in advance according to the rules. The challenge to me is to pick an entertaining theme and pick topics within it that match each letter of the alphabet. :-)