We are in the middle of NaNoWriMo, and a couple of thoughts suddenly came to convergence in my head. So, I thought I’d share them here.
NaNoWriMo has its supporters and critics. I guess you could count me as a supporter, because I don’t see why anyone shouldn’t try writing a novel and NaNo is a great time to give it a try. There are support functions, writing groups all over the net, forums for fanfic, etc. Yes, as the critics love to shout about, a lot of really bad writing is done during NaNo. It happens. But as a creative event involving thousands of people, I bet some pretty great writing is being done, too.
This month of writing intersected with my thoughts about the different types of quilters out there, with discussions about what a quilt is worth, what is a reasonable price for quality fabrics and thread to use in our projects, and what’s the best and most sustainable way to quilt. And my thought process kind of ran along from there. There are a lot of craft people out there, a lot of people who practice various arts, and a lot of various skill levels in every single one of them. And it suddenly hit me: why does it seem like the self published novelist tends to be looked down on more so than, say, a quilter who sells bed quilts on Etsy or a potter who sells at craft fairs? Is there something more intrinsically difficult about writing a good novel than there is in sewing a well-constructed and beautiful quilt? I don’t think so. Each benefits from years of practice, but every once in a while a beginner can hit on something spectacular. Many people probably believe they could write a really good novel if they tried, but most of these people won’t because while writing looks easy, it can be incredibly hard.
(Note: I’ve tried writing fiction, I really have. My husband will point out one scene I wrote long ago that was really good. But while that scene was very well-written, and evoked a vivid image of the situation, it had nowhere to go and I was unable to come up with a good way to use it. I maintain that I am NOT a writer. I make a pretty decent proofreader and sometimes editor, though!)
So let me use the quilting world as analogy. There are those who make quilts just to give away; those who make simple or complex, large or small quilts to sell; and those who make quilts to enter competitions. In the same manner, there are those who write to share with their friends and family, or simply to see if they can do it; those who write books to sell, either via a traditional publisher or on their own as an indie publisher; and those who write “serious” literature that gets entered into the various literary contests around the world.
Why are those who write just to write looked down on more than those who quilt just to quilt? NaNo-ers are just trying to express their creative sides. Let’s give them as much support as we can. Some of them might move on to the other levels of writing, and in the future you could see a finished and wonderful novel from them that you would love to read.
I’d love to hear comments or disagreements on this.