I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and I’ll not burden you by kvetching about it. That grouse has flown. I’ll just say I’m not sure whether writing 50,000 words of admitted is the same thing as writing a novel, or whether writing a novel-length draft doth a novelist make. And frankly, the prohibition on not continuing existing projects rules out most literary artists of my acquaintance.
Instead, I’ll tell you what I and some of those literary artist friends are doing this month.
It’s not NaNoWriMo. It does involve making some serious projects on literary projects this month. In fact, it doubles and opposes NaNoWriMo through its cheeky combination of libertinism and chutzpah. It’s a small, informal group of friends with different sorts of projects, wildly different goals and thresholds, all more or less working on existing projects, many of which aren’t novels. I’m trying to finish redrafting a long manuscript, getting hopefully a chapter done a day, but at least bits of it. It’s a bit of a lark, really, but a lark with serious writing to do.
We call ourselves ShadowWriMo. It’s not trademarked.
Here’s a bit from the completely unofficial manifesto I’m writing for us, which—given my inclination and the time of day—has completely spiralled out of all proportion, but oh well:
Commonality would have us think that the hedge of shared experience, a set of goals for a conglomerate of artists, are the determinants of literary abandon, as though artists were athletes to be measured by synonymous marks. The experience of the individual is thus subsumed in adherence to the common way. Insofar as this acknowledges the radical brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity, this is good. Too often, however, it is presented like the arbitrary rules of a special interest club; the individual word is lost in the common paragraph. […]
Instead, we welcome the individual, who works perhaps poorly, perhaps well, perhaps at times both, but who possesses the courage to speak their own words, and to speak the words that are theirs alone to say. We welcome oddities and differences, obscurity and seeming insignificance; a few walking together for a while, though on different paths and diverse roads, is more obstetric to the making of literary art than is a seething mass pressing forward in quiet desperation.
For my ShadowWriMo colleagues: you’ll get the full piece by the weekend, promise!
For anyone and everyone else—especially if you need to get some serious work done by the end of November but don’t have time or interest in the 1667 new NaNoWriMo words: contact me through the comments or other means.
Meanwhile, the blogalectic will not be televised, but will continue appearing here on Fridays.