I wasn’t really a fan of National Novel Writing Month (i.e., November Hackapalooza) until I came to terms with the basic fact that it’s not about quality, it’s about discipline and that’s a value I can get behind. Encourage people to commit to just putting the damn thing on paper and you are slowly building some important writing skills. Also it’s a nice community thing that lets friends check on each other and support each other even if nothing ever gets published. It’s a world wide writing workshop, dominated by amateurs and hobbyists, and that’s OK. It seems to be full of the kind of good will that the internet needs much more of.
But it’s not for me.
Writing is easy if you are a genius or don’t really care about what you put down. But for most of us, writing is a very hard thing if you want to be taken seriously. If you always stick with your first draft, you are not doing it right. Just as Scrabble ability is more related to math and pattern recognition skills than vocabulary size, writing well requires more than love of language; it demands a serious respect for the audience, the editor and yourself.
Writing is really hard when life insists on kicking you in the face with things you would like to write about but can’t. I blogged more, for example, when I had lots of different games to play and no burdens on what I could say about them. Now I have a day job that eats creative energy, and I can’t write on this blog about the Crusader Kings 2 beta, or the status of Sword of the Stars 2, or the tensions between being a former journalist and a gun for hire or why it sometimes takes so long to answer email. If I write about the job, it will be on the corporate blog and that’s a space where I represent Evolve even more than I do in my normal life (this is a small business; I always represent Evolve unless you aren’t in it or you are a very close friend). And this will never be the sort of blog where I spend a week complaining about my personal life or write about Bars And Pubs I Have Known.
So the idea of sitting and writing a novel which demands creativity and outlining and character arcs scares the hell out of me. Because I cannot do fiction. I think I have a skill with writing dialog, but mapping out a plot that strings those dialogs together and doesn’t reveal itself from the beginning is a skill I envy. I like to think that maybe I could have been a playwright or screenwriter, but that’s a lie, too. Sitting at my desk and typing a couple of thousand words every night to try to fit a story together is kind of terrifying. I’ve read some great short stories and those demand the kind of precision I love in writing, but still. Plot.
Nope, it’s non-fiction for me, and I will start my e-book before the end of the year once I’ve done the research, made sure I can pay for awesome cover art and looked at what a decent price point will be. Plus, I really want to learn video this month and it’s been much harder than I thought it would be to make time for Flash of Steel TV.
If I end up starting with a Christmas Special, shoot me.
If any commenters are participating, or have in the past, let me know. Keep me updated. I’d love to read your work.