In a NaNo Nutshell, everyone should be encouraged to write and express themselves. I visit schools and inspire students to see words as magic and to be unafraid to use them. As a kid, I wrote out new vocabulary words and carried them around. I tried these new words out on school mates, but they laughed at me and told me to shut up. I kept using them, but not so much in conversation. I was a dreamy girl trying out new words in ridiculous ways. I think all children and adults should be so ridiculous.
However, having a profession as a writer is another matter. What other profession would be so disrespected? One where many people think they can do what you do without considering the cost? One where just about everyone is writing a novel or claiming they should write one, and then inundating publishers and agents with ill prepared and sloppy writing? I had a Victorian tea catering business years ago; I am a known baker in these parts and I’m also working on a recipe/essay book. However, I would never apply for a job at a five star restaurant for the position of pastry chef! I’m not trained. My husband’s engineering company would not hire an applicant for an engineer position unless they had the education, skills, training, etc. I wouldn’t apply for a dance teacher position, or audition at a theater as a dancer. I am not trained, although I’ve danced for years. But with writing, too many people think they can do it without skill, education, talent, hard labor, etc. Long ago, publishing houses had so many slush piles that they closed their doors to unsolicited manuscripts. And I can’t believe that many of those slush piles contained polished writing. People write out of some kind of drunken, playing the lottery frenzy and then send it out as is. Piles and piles of words not well thought out before spoken on the page.
However, having a deadline and a means to free up someone who has dreamed of writing is a good thing. And even for experienced writers, a kick in the pants marathon can move them out of procrastination and discouragement.
I have been guilty of thronging the market with poor writing, too. I am not the most skilled and honed writer. I am in process and still in training. But I’ve also learned something about this marketplace. And I have writing heroes whom I know have more experience and have given blood, sweat, and tears to this profession. I don’t assume myself to be in the same place they are in. I have fallen down and gotten up many times; I have gone to school, worked with mentors, been in writing groups, re-written and re-written, had epiphanies, gave up and started again a day later. I have paid a lot of dues. And now is the time in my life I would like to have my words shine out there, inform and touch lives, entertain, and yes, bring some affirmation. But I’m up against so many odds and I see the glaring, blaring, superficial, artificial, and crazy marketplace (and a great deal of this dumbing down thing) and oftentimes I don’t see where I fit. Maybe this reaction to marathon writing is also because I’ve sat at too many book events where people came to my table for up to an hour and talked to me about their novels they are writing or dreaming of writing…and then walked away without purchasing my $8.00 books. I have helped other writers, encouraged them…in fact, I just did on Saturday. I encourage people to not put their writing dream on the back burner, but to also expect to sacrifice time (more than a month) and to expect to do a lot of re-writing, re-writing, re-writing, as well as crying. It is as it should be. This quote really says it straight, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” (Red Smith)