Friday, November 5, 2010

Writers, "Haters" and Hope

Earlier this week I posted about the NaNoWriMo project happening this month.I signed up and began posting my word count totals for the (non-fiction) book I am working on. 

I also started  following the #nanowrimo hashtag on Twitter.  So every couple of minutes - night and day - someone tweets about their current word count, or their current plot twist, or their current procrastination technique .... it's interesting, fun and motivating to see all these other people attempting what you're attempting at the same time.

A few days back I noticed a change in the #nanowrimo tweets. They started talking about the "haters" in the media who said this project was a waste of time.  I ignored it awhile - if I followed every tweeted link with this hashtag I'd never get one word of my own written! When the discussion persisted, I tracked down its origins.  It was this article by Salon's Laura Miller - pop over and read it.

When I read the article I had mixed feelings. One one hand, I agreed with some of the points this sharp if a bit snarky woman made. As a writer, as a reader, as an editor - even as a woman somewhat riding the edge of this year's nanowrimo bandwagon.  I'm sure many of these quickly written novels will have plot holes and poorly developed characters - but that's what the rewriting process is for. EVERY writer must revise their first draft.

Besides, a flawless novel in 30 days isn't the goal or the point. The point is in attempting it.  In the discipline of making yourself stay with something difficult for 30 days.  In the process of the journey. And in the pleasure of trying to scale this mountain "together."

Mostly, I was saddened that she'd just kicked in the teeth a community project aimed at helping people try something new, nurture their creativity, or fulfill a goal they've long held. What's the matter with her? I wondered. She's a writer herself.  Exactly when did cynicism become the calling card of today - making snarky tear downs applauded?  When did it become a crime to try your hand at something, to be a beginner, an amateur.  To find out what you're good at and what you enjoy through trial and error?

I also came across Seth Godin's assessment of laziness this week and couldn't help wonder if the type of attitude displayed in the Salon article drives our fear-based laziness. Seth wrote:

"I think laziness has changed. It used to be about avoiding physical labor. The lazy person could nap or have a cup of tea while others got hot and sweaty and exhausted. Part of the reason society frowns on the lazy is that this behavior means more work for the rest of us.

When it came time to carry the canoe over the portage, I was always hard to find. The effort and the pain gave me two good reasons to be lazy. But the new laziness has nothing to do with physical labor and everything to do with fear. If you're not going to make those sales calls or invent that innovation or push that insight, you're not avoiding it because you need physical rest. You're hiding out because you're afraid of expending emotional labor."

Then I came across this rebuttal article to Salon's and I wanted to stand up from my office chair and clap. I wanted to thank Carolyn Kellogg of the LA Times for being both a clear, critical thinker and an affirmer of courage and hope.

Hope is a precious commodity. And I for one want to be sower of it. Call me a freckle-faced Annie, but I'd prefer to believe the sun will come out tomorrow.  I'd prefer to keeping writing this manuscript I'm working on with the belief that - no matter the outcome - it will be worth the ride. And I prefer to dream that perhaps the next NY Times best-selling novel will be written by someone whose Tweets I read this week.

Thankful that with God, hope is always available.


  1. I love this article Rachel! I am not doing NaNoWriMo. But I am collaborating with a mentor to try and write a book. And I am absolutely covered in fear! I am not doing what I should be doing because I fear that very failure crreates fear based "laziness." Thank you for being an inspiration.

  2. I'm definitely not a writer, but I do read (not as much as I use to) and I have read a lot of non-fiction books, type that I liked, since I was in grade school. I will stand up with you regarding the rebuttal article. These writers have to start somewhere just like those of us who started blogs that we had no idea what we would do with them, but it's been over 2 years and I'm still here. Hopefully and prayerfully I have been a blessing to someone. You go girl, you've got talent and I'm sure there are a lot of people that have the talent but don't know where to start. Sounds like this NaNoWriMo is helping a lot of people.

  3. Kelly, I pray for us both to shake off the fear and "laziness" and invest in the process of using our talents and passions for His glory!

    Alice, you inspire me.

  4. Very interesting reads.

    I know that as an aspiring writer, I want to read encouragement in writing, not hopelessness.

    But even more importantly, I think you point us all in the right direction in recognizing that the hope gifted to us from God is what we should focus on and the lenses with which we should view our lives.

  5. "12 Reasons to Ignore the Naysayers" - The title caught my attention right off.

    I never thought about laziness in that way, but it makes so much sense. It's something for me to think about in my own life.

  6. I am just starting chapter 8 of your new book, 'It's No Secret' and I just love it. There is just so much good stuff in this great book and I am so thankful that God gifted you with the ability to write it! It has spoken to my heart many times in the 7 chapters I have read so far! Thank you!

  7. Thank you for that encouraging note, Beth!

    I'm so glad you are enjoying the book and that it is speaking to your heart - that is an answer to my prayers. I hope you'll share it with a Yahweh Sister this Christmas. :)

    Sweet Blessings ~ Rachel

  8. My daughter and I are also writing in the NaNoWriMo challenge. She has done it for 3 years, this is my second year.

    I would agree that there is no way I "pumped out" a wonderful novel last year. But I wrote diligently and finished the goal.

    I wasn't going to write again this year, but my daughter convinced me to :) (that's what daughter's do well!) Anyway, I am very bad at grammar and my plots have so many holes they look like swiss cheese but it is teaching me to be diligent to do something that is difficult--even on days when I "hate" it!

    It's like running a marathon. There are days (I have heard) when you want to quit. When the pain is so bad you think you have an excuse to stop. Maybe you will finish last in the marathon...but if you keep going you will finish. And there is something good about finishing something difficult.

    1Cor9:26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim ; I box in such a way, as not beating the air ; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

    It is good practice to do something difficult to completion.

    And those are my thoughts on the subject! :D

    God bless you on your "Nano" race! Run as to win...for in have won over your flesh! :)


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