2. The word “but”. I incessantly seem to think in a way that argues against myself. In reviews I try to keep myself down to one “but” construction, but often fail. (There it is again!) When my six-year-old daughter looked at a passage I was writing she said, “You use ‘but’ too much. You should use other words like ‘however’.” My speed went down by about 25% after that.
3. Having to keep quiet on Twitter. I know Nanowrimo tweets can drive people mad – normal word count tweets are annoying enough, but during November there are thousands more of them! – so I didn’t want to tweet about it. Since it was all I thought about during November (at least in my leisure time) that left little else to tweet about.
4. Being behind. Doing the final set-up bits for the British Fantasy Awards and travelling down to Brighton for the British Fantasy Society AGM got me off to a pretty bad start, and I didn’t catch up until the very last day.
5. The “rebels”, or “hangers-on”. There have always been a bunch of people who sign up for Nanowrimo who don’t want to write a novel from start to finish, think doing so would be a waste of effort, and often don’t like novels at all – or even know what they are! It’s got much worse in recent years because the organisers introduced the idea of “rebellion”. So people who aren’t taking part in the challenge but want to sip from the same cup can designate themselves rebels, converse in their own forum, buy their own special hoody, and hang around without taking part, all the while discouraging other people from the job (and joy) of writing a novel. Whenever a question is asked about the rules of the challenge, someone always pipes up to say, “But you don’t have to! You can be a rebel, like me!” It’s baffling that the organisers positively encourage people to not take part in their own event, until you realise that “rebels” are encouraged to donate money. The rebels’ presence gives the impression that raising money is more important than keeping the event focused.
6. Which leads on to: the fundraising. When I stopped being an ML for Birmingham there were a few reasons – one was that our venue for write-ins had given us the boot! But another was that the MLs were being asked to actively fundraise for the event – an event for which we were already doing a great deal of volunteer work. I’ve always been happy to buy a t-shirt or two, and donating $10 to cover the costs of running the forums seems reasonable. But this year the fundraising got out of hand, with a day being set aside for marathon sessions, promoted with guff like “Write for two hours? You should donate $100!” – as if our hard work on our own novels would mean we owed the organisation money. In the end, you don’t need that organisation to write a 50,000 novel in November. They had a good idea, and run good, very useful forums full of excellent advice and support, but if their company were to collapse the event would go on.
7. Being miserable most of the day until I got my 1667 words done.
8. Having to be extra grumpy with my kids to get them out of my study.
9. The embarrassment of seeing the appalling novels other wrimos are writing. It’s depressing to read a novel synopsis composed entirely of broken sentences – beside a word count of 150,000!
10. The disappointment at seeing the brilliant novels other wrimos are writing – that they never publish!
11. The number of people advising participants to stop trying. “You can write any time, not just in November!” “Real writers write all year round!” “It’s just a silly pointless competition!” But writing as part of Nanowrimo is special. It gives you permission to neglect everything else for a month, to burn the candle at both ends for a while, to push yourself harder than there’s ever normally a reason to. Without the deadline to aim for, I’d never have spent last Saturday writing eight thousand words. I’d have been expected to help the children with their homework in the morning, make a decent lunch for them, do the dishes, order the pizza, watch a film in the evening, and so on. I have a new novel in my hands, and if I’d listened to the numbskulls saying not to bother, that novel wouldn't exist.
12. That it’s over for another year.