Monday, December 01, 2008

Celebrating Words & Passing It On

NaNoWriMo is over! I put an exclamation point because I feel I should celebrate the month, but I'm actually sad it's over. I already can't wait until next year. 

I made it, only because I'd been counting in my head the last few days. I also forgot I'd taken an entire 4K chapter out to focus on it, so I put all docs together, did a real count, and found I'd won. It was a little anticlimactic, because I'd geared up for a real big last minute push of 3.5K.

In my book, participating is winning, whether you win or not.

Now I'm going to ask you a favor.

Amateurs are the best gift an art has. They are the biggest supporters, the most enthusiastic in the world of their art. They buy the most, they thank the artist, they encourage the artist.

They make the community. They are the foot soldiers. We would be NOWHERE without amateurs.

Back in the day, amateur was a noble word. Professionals were not regarded quite as nobly, because they took money for their art, while amateurs pursued their passions out of love. Remember when the Olympics were strictly amateur-only?

If every citizen wrote a novel next November, I guarantee book sales would skyrocket. And how would you feel to be part of such enthusiasm, whether you were published or not? Whether you could write 50K in a month or not? 
For those young people hoping to be writers some day, there is nothing better than practice. They need to write. They need the freedom to write whatever the hell they want, to find their voice, discover what in themselves wants to come out.

For young and old, professional and amateur, NaNoWriMo gets you in the habit of writing. For me, it helped me find my flow again. I've been grinding for months, and it's been driving me nuts.

NaNoWriMo isn't just a bunch of people writing shit. It's about people celebrating the love of the novel. It's about igniting and supporting that passion in a generation of young people.

image Everyone is saying that young people are not reading enough. Well, guess what? If you check out the videos that follow, you'll see that young people are celebrating the written word. How much better can that get? They even have a special Young Writer's Program for kids and teens.

It is our duty to support young people, to keep "the line" going. It is our duty to support and encourage the amateur, just as they support and enable us to do the best job in the world. It is our duty to support the celebration of our art, to spread the love of it amongst many.

image It's time for us, as writers, to stop separating ourselves: published, reader, kinda published, unpublished, self-published, hack. It's time for us to band together and celebrate each other, appreciate each of us expressing our enthusiasm for the novel in our own unique way. No one wants to wake up in a world where the enthusiasm for the novel is dead.

It is our responsibility to pass the love on, to support the next generation.

With 119,286 writers enthusiastic enough to sign up for NaNoWriMo, with classrooms and entire schools participating in the Young Writer's Program, I feel contributing to The Office of Letters and Light is a big way to do that.

Will you contribute $10? Spread the word? Spread the enthusiasm? Too broke to contribute money but still want to support?

Need more proof of the value of NaNo? Here ya' go:

29 bonus scribbles:

R.J. Keller 12/01/2008 02:47:00 AM  

Amen to your entire post!!!

Both of my kids participated this year and both of them made their word count goals. I couldn't be more proud of them. And they couldn't be more proud of themselves. They didn't just write 20,000 words...they discovered the power of those words. They discovered their voices. They've got an even bigger appreciation for books than they already had before November started - and as my kids, that appreciation was pretty big to begin with.

Anyway...congrats to you on making your word count!

Janna Qualman 12/01/2008 09:34:00 AM  

Way to go, Spy! You did great. And you're right, it's more about the participation than anything. Yay!

My daughter brought home a "mid-term" from kindergarten last week. Her teacher said she's excited about Emma's enthusiasm for writing, and that I should continue encouraging her. (Though Emma says, "I don't know what the big deal about writing is. It's not that special." LOL) And I plan to!

Edie 12/01/2008 09:53:00 AM  

Congratulations, Spy! Great blog! I'll check out the links you gave us. Next year I might even participate in NaNo. It was impossible this year, but I'll give it a shot. Maybe I'll set myself a NaNo goal for January.

Melanie Avila 12/01/2008 09:59:00 AM  

Spy, congratulations for finishing!!! Even if it was anti-climatic, lol.

Your post has me cheering - great ideas here!

Robin 12/01/2008 11:46:00 AM  

Congratulations, Spy! Way to go! And thanks for this uplifting post! (Terrific title btw - I'm awful at titles, and yours says so much with just six words.)

You've sparked an idea in me for next year! Maybe I can lead a group of high schoolers (my son will be a junior) in the writing challenge. Hmm. Great food for thought! Thank you.

CJ Harley 12/01/2008 12:00:00 PM  

Congrats on making it to the finish line! Glad to see you in the winner's circle.

Next year I think I will try to get my little cousin involved with NaNo. The more the merrier.

Robin 12/01/2008 03:15:00 PM  

Awesome post, Spy! You're so right! I kept wanting to contribute and then forgetting about it, so you've motivated the heck out of me!

Kel, I'm so impressed with your kids. That's super cool.

Zoe Winters 12/01/2008 03:45:00 PM  

This is a fabulous post, Spy! And I CAN'T believe you used the word, SHIT, you're so sweet. You don't say shit. hahahahahahaha. Holy crap, hahahaha. Sorry I'm just sitting here going, "Spy just totally said shit."

Okay, I'm all better now. :D

And I too wish that we could stop having this group and that group. I'm not sure every writer is meant to be a "professional writer." Anymore than everybody who has ever taken up bowling decided they needed to join up with a championship league.

It seems like writing is one of the few things that you can't really "do" without some expectation that you're going to become a pro at it.

If you tell someone you wrote a novel, they automatically go: "you going to try to get it published."

If you say you're learning to play the piano no one says: "You aiming at becoming a concert pianist?"

Sandy James 12/01/2008 03:48:00 PM  

Thanks for visiting my blog and adding me to your roll call! I'll be sure to return the favor! And big congrats on finishing NaNo!! :-)

spyscribbler 12/01/2008 05:04:00 PM  

Wow, R.J., I am SO impressed with your kids. That is TOTALLY awesome! You should be really, really proud of them!

Anonymous,  12/01/2008 06:42:00 PM  

Anti-climatic? I don't know, Spy. This is a great blog for the close of NaNoWriMo. Congrats on finishing, too!

I just don't have the commitment to write 50K words in one month. That's not to say I can't do it because I wrote an entire book in 8 weeks. Still, that was an anomoly and I'm sticking to it. ;-) So just let me know when and where and I'll be your NaNoWriMo cheerleader rooting you on to the finishline.

Heather Harper 12/01/2008 08:06:00 PM  

"It's time for us, as writers, to stop separating ourselves: published, reader, kinda published, unpublished, self-published, hack. It's time for us to band together and celebrate each other, appreciate each of us expressing our enthusiasm for the novel in our own unique way. No one wants to wake up in a world where the enthusiasm for the novel is dead."

Can I put this on a shirt? ;-)

lainey bancroft 12/01/2008 08:53:00 PM  

Ah, man, Spy! You're so good at these posts. These...these inspirational 'we're all in this together' type posts. I so wish I'd had the Internet and blog buds a 100 years ago when I wanted to write and everyone (including me) thought I was full of shit! Ya made me cry dammit! :(

Must be NoNo-blog-time-of-the-month!

Rick 12/01/2008 11:31:00 PM  

Okay, I'll contribute again. I feel so guilty that I had to back out due to other responsibilities, I may donate three times!

spyscribbler 12/02/2008 11:22:00 AM  

Janna, in Kindergarten??? That is AWESOME. (I can't believe Kindergarteners have mid-terms, LOL! That just sounds so funny. :-)

That is really special.

spyscribbler 12/02/2008 11:23:00 AM  

Edie, I've only "won" NaNo once out of the many years I've tried it, but I still love it. I know the 50K is the "big" goal, but whatever amount you write, there's so much to be gained from the energy of it.

spyscribbler 12/02/2008 11:24:00 AM  

LOL, thanks, Melanie! You were totally my inspiration.

spyscribbler 12/02/2008 11:26:00 AM  

Wow, Robin, that's an incredible idea! I've always wanted to do something like that, but maybe this year I need to find a way and get it done. That's pretty cool.

What's always stopped me, is if I do something like that, I have to pretend I'm not a writer, and pretend I don't have a pseudonym, LOL. *sigh*

spyscribbler 12/02/2008 11:27:00 AM  

Oh, CJ, that would be awesome! I'm so thrilled with all the young people who have such enthusiasm for the event. The older people, too!

spyscribbler 12/02/2008 11:28:00 AM  

Robin, I kept meaning to, but I kept forgetting. I finally did it. I am SO impressed with R.J.'s kids, too! Isn't that just awesome? I'm so impressed.

spyscribbler 12/02/2008 11:35:00 AM  

LOL, Zoe! I used "hell," too. There goes my PG rating! SO true about the pianist thing. I wish people would be more welcoming to those writers who just want to play with it.

That's my biggest problem with RWA: about 80% are unpublished, and they are happy to take that money, but the authors don't want to intermingle with them. Drives me nuts.

spyscribbler 12/02/2008 11:36:00 AM  

Of course, Sandy! I was happy to discover your blog. :-)

spyscribbler 12/02/2008 11:37:00 AM  

Marcia, it was a bit anti-climactic because I got tired and gave up. I accepted defeat, two hours before the deadline. And then I counted up all my words, and realized I'd made it... but I still knew, inside, that I'd given up, LOL.

I'm a little nuts, LOL.

spyscribbler 12/02/2008 11:38:00 AM  

Heather, if you do, I'll be first in line to buy it!

spyscribbler 12/02/2008 11:38:00 AM  

Aw, Aimless, I just blushed.

spyscribbler 12/02/2008 11:39:00 AM  

LOL, Rick! I've lost several years. What can you do? For some reason, I often write above 50K in a month, but I've never managed to win NaNo until now. It's a total mental block.

spyscribbler 12/02/2008 11:42:00 AM  

Aw, Lainey, you make me blush, too! I love the novel, so it goes without saying that I love every aspect of the world to do with it. This is one of my hair-trigger issues, one of those issues I feel enormously passionate about. I'm not sure why.

Rick 12/02/2008 11:45:00 AM  

Well, you've certainly broken that mental block!

And I can't get my kids to quit reading long enough to discuss literarcy.