There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding this Salon piece by Laura Miller that criticizes the idea of National Novel Writing Month. People are pissed. How dare she tell people not to write, especially when she herself is a writer? One of my favorite publishing bloggers, Carolyn Kellogg of the LA Times’s Jacket Copy, really took her to task, attacking her post sentence by sentence. And, as usual, Carolyn is smart and incisive. Writers do need encouragement, especially since much of their time is spent on a rather solitary activity. I think the communal aspect of NaNoWriMo is fantastic–being held accountable is important. If participating means more butt-in-chair time, then I approve. For authors, I think it can be a great exercise, one through which you can learn new techniques and strategies that can be employed long after the month has passed.
Sadly, though, I think Laura made a good point that she unfortunately tied to NaNoWriMo: if you want to write, read. Reading is absolutely the first, most important step to becoming a writer. And while I have a feeling that many people participating in NaNoWriMo are readers–and probably big readers at that–there are plenty of people who aspire to write books, and even attempt to write them, that don’t read. When I tell people what I do for a living, many of them tell me that they’ve thought of writing a book. Many of those same people also couldn’t recall the last book they read or bought. Talk about awkward party conversations…
I know if you’re following this blog that you’re already readers, so I’m preaching to the choir. But have you met non-reader-writers in your publishing adventures? And do they make you as angry as they do Ms. Miller and me?