The Interdome - You may be a blogger but you ain't no dancer
You're so novel...
Among the many things that I hate, I HATE national novel writing month. I refuse to use the ridiculous abbreviation.
My hate has very little (though some) to do with the critique that you can't write a good novel in a month, and very little (but more) to do with the idea of thousands of people thinking they can write although they cannot. My hate also totally drunkenly crashes its bike into the car owned by the idea (just go with the metaphor) that 'it is good to stimulate people to write'.
Here are the ingredients of which my hate consists:
One: The idea that 90,000 people writing a novel, for good or bad, is somehow a good thing, is ridiculous. First of all, there are over 90,000 shitty books published every month already: from celebrity ghost-written tell-alls, to stupid 'here's the story of me doing this thing in real life', to self-help books that are as much literature as anything else in the new releases section at a big book store, to historical fiction to the next Halo novel (yes, a series based on a video game). What more are 90,000 more? Even if the effort garners fifty worthwhile books, wouldn't these people who can write have written a book anyway? Why do we need a month?
Two: Why do we need a month to celebrate the bare-bones fact of literacy? Sure, people don't exercise their creative writing skills enough. But the people who already think they are 'writers' will be filling their moleskins anyway, no matter what month it is. The people watching "My Name is Earl" are still watching TV. All this month does is give people an excuse to waste more paper, not improve their vocabularies.
Three: 'Novel'? What the fuck is a novel? If you want to talk narrative, there are far too many narratives out there, populating the vast abyss that is our cultural unconscious, and by encouraging people to reify these bastardized archetypes by aping actual literature is just thinking that you have created life via growing e. coli all over your walls by rubbing raw chicken all over them. Committing something to words, the ability of every literate person, does not literature make. This is a talent and art that is not about telling a story. This conception of 'the novel' is what leads every person with the money to buy paint think that they are an artist. Sure, everyone needs to practice to be good at anything, but this leads back to number two, above. Why not hand out diplomas to everyone who buys the books, even if they don't go to class? Because simply signing up doesn't mean you learn anything.
Four: SOME OF US ARE ACTUALLY TRYING TO WRITE ALL THE TIME BUT HAVE TO WORK FOR A LIVING AND GET HOME SO TIRED EVERY NIGHT THAT THEY CAN'T WORK ON WHAT THEY REALLY WANT TO AND THE IDEA THAT 90,000 PEOPLE SOMEHOW HAVE THE TIME TO DEDICATE A MONTH TO SUCH A BULLSHIT MOCKERY OF SOMETHING REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME MAKES ME WANT TO BURN THINGS. (ok, let's just forget number four.)
Five: I don't really know what all the people who take part in this fool exercise are like, but I have some guesses. These are people who consider themselves creative, have a wide variety of interests and hobbies, and are open-minded and adventurous enough to take on some project like this. I'm also guessing that they don't dedicate themselves to anything specifically, otherwise they would simply be doing that. A painter or a fashion designer (amateur or not) would not take out a month to try a different creative hobby. A writer would be writing anyway, november novel or not (see number two). These are people who like to take pictures, have tried painting, garden a bit, and what the hell, they have a computer, so why not try a novel. This will be one more half-finished project that they will give up once they lose momentum or november ends. I guess there is nothing really objectionable about this, except that it leads to all of the above. There is this weird romanticism about being a renaissance man/woman... why? Why not try and actually perfect something? Why not take a year to write a novel, if writing a novel is what you want/have to do. Why not actually be good at acoustic guitar rather than just learning a few bob dylan songs? Why not actually try to create something new, rather than just sewing together some handbags? I guess if you don't want to do something that bad, then it is just a hobby. And while there is nothing wrong with writing as a hobby, there is number two, and clearly we need no "take a picture day" or "knitting week". Just because we're all capable of writing doesn't mean anyone can, should, or needs to be writing a novel in the month of november. Why isn't a grocery list a poem? Why isn't every journal a novel? Why isn't paint art? I don't know exactly, but I can tell you of all the words that will be spent in the month of november, we won't get any closer to finding out. Masturbating doesn't teach you how to fuck. And here we are back at the beginning.
thanks for listening,
Adam (who just spent half an hour typing this rather than actually writing)
"For centuries the situation in literature was such that a small number of writers faced many thousands of times that number of readers. Then, towards the end of the last century, there came a change. As the press grew in volume, making ever-increasing numbers of new political, religious, scientific, professional and local organs available to its readership, larger and larger sections of that readership (gradually at first) turned into writers. It began with the daily newspapers opening their 'correspondence columns' to such people, and it has now reached a point where few Europeans involved in the labour process could fail, basically, to find some opportunity or other to publish an experience at work, a complaint, a piece of reporting or something similar. The distinction between writer and readership is thus in the process of losing its fundamental character. That distinction is becoming a functional one, assuming a different form from one case to to the next. "
--Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction