Nanowrimo. It purrs off the tongue with deceptive innocence, a catchphrase we can bandy lightlyat any passing non-initiate. We write for nanowrimo. We create words for nanowrimo. We are nanowrimers.
The reality keeps us awake and sobbing late into the night. So cool.
There’s a writing assignment for you in a bit, lest you think I’ve lost my anchor to reality. (Not sure how that’s supposed to reassure you…)
Of course, I’m not a real nanowrimer. I respect those who are. I am a hanger-on, a bystander, writing but not with madness, plotting but not with despair. But I still feel the subtle pressure that in a week I must gather my thoughts and explain to the world how my time as a pseudo-nanowrimer went this year, what I did and did not achieve, and how happy I am with my ratio of procrastination to productivity. Words…
(This includes, please note, nearly 20k existing words in the manuscript. For those interest, I discovered that I have written a total of 16966 words for this month. Nearly doubling the ms in size, but not quite scratching the deadline.)
It would be appropriate to insert an existential crisis here. But what good would that do me? Or you? Or either of our deadlines?
This confused him more than anything had for years.
Words are important because of their unimportance.
Here’s a suggestion for you. Write an answer to this scenario. What would a would be like where everyone held a rudimentary awareness of its magic? The magic of this world is the connection between the discrete objects in this world. Everyone can hold conversation with everything else. Powerful magicians in this world exercise a sort of persuasive discourse with the material world.
Write, quickly, a short conversation in this world between a master and a novice. A ruler and a citizen. Someone who knows, deeply and powerfully, how to exploit the connection–and someone who knows only intuitively that the connection is there.
How different is this world from ours, really? Vastly–or not. Depends on how you wrote it. Right?
In fact we are connected, with one another and with everything else, through our words. Fantasy lit in particular reveals this. Our words make real for us a place beyond our comprehension, our imagination. So that we know the Shire perhaps better than our own hometowns. We discuss politics at the Ministry of Magic perhaps more intently than in Congress or Parliament. We rage against the idea that some animals are more equal than others.
Perhaps only later we realize our own symptoms of more equality. Our subtle prejudices that looks at other people–homeless men in grubby overalls, people greeting each other with cultural manners not our own, voters in another political party–and hear our own harsh words…mudblood, two-legged, plough-folk…
We speak words everyday. Wasted, many of them, if not most. We hear words everyday. And we set ourselves deadlines to write, to edit, to publish tens of thousands of words by a certain date.
Like it or not, that fantasy world you created for the writing assignment is our world–whether your protagonists have three eyes, three heads, or are made of metal. We exert power on others with our words. Because words are so common, they are the fastest to bring change, to bring healing–or to stagnate, to wound.
Everyone things about how important art is. But art holds words, the silent words of the spirit, that calls deep to deep. We speak words unwittingly, unthinkingly, count words like cattle, the importance in quantity, not quality.
And we unleash, all unknowing, the most powerful force in the world.
16k does not equal 60k. I hope to close the gap this week (dream with me). But however few my words may be, may I write only to heal.