I haven’t yet received my first nasty Nanomail accusing me of cheating, but I expect that to start within the first few days of November. I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to wake up, log on, and see that I’ve got 5 or 6 messages. Of them, odds are that one, maybe two, of them will be positive. They’ll ask how I do it or just generally offer support. Those people are awesome and deserve great novel karma and total happiness. But then the rest will be people flat-out accusing me of cheating. And they piss me off. A lot. I’m generally a pretty calm, blase, take-the-world-as-it-comes kind of person, but of all the things I do/have done in my life, this is pretty much the real-est. I work my ass off for hours a day, every day, for 30 days. I love doing it and hope to do it for many years to come.
And do you know what surprised me as I was wandering around the forums this year? People were timing their word counts in 10/15 minute intervals, and quite a lot of them can type as much or more than I can in the same period of time. Yes, they’re doing one burst and not sustaining that speed, but that just takes practice and a lucky-good set of wrists. And yes, you’ve got to have the ideas in the first place, which I understand other people sometimes have trouble with. As for quality, the only difference between me who writes a couple thousand in an hour as part of a long day, and the person who procrastinates until 10 at night and pushes all their words out in an hour, is that I was doing it for more hours that day. I remain convinced that the quality of my work is not significantly worse than anyone else’s, on average. And yeah, I understand that most people don’t have the time to dedicate to what I do, and that’s fine. If/when I get married/employed/have kids I’m sure that I’ll have to cut back, and that’s fine. When it happens, it happens. I’ll deal with it then. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and priorities too (no, I’m not saying that it’s a wrong priority to put your job/significant other/children/pet first, I’m saying that it’s a decision), and mine allow me to do this, and my lifestyle allows me to shunt other things into the background for 30 days to do something insane.
Why would I cheat? What the hell would my gain be? Sure, yeah, I get to parade around the forums talking about my word count, but in general, I try to confine that to threads where people are talking about their word count, and even then I don’t post a lot. When I was doing JulNo earlier this year, and was doing word wars with people, after a while I participated silently and didn’t report my count at the end of the war. Because I hate making people uncomfortable with my word count, and I hate making them feel on any level like they’re doing less work than I am. You can see in the previous posts on this blog that I talk about the things I’m going to write, I’m happy to talk about them. The only person losing if I pretended to write those things would be me. As I always do with those who accuse me of cheating, I will do it again this year: if you don’t believe me, I would be delighted to send you all the work I’ve done this month to date. It will be a rough enough first draft that you’d have to have my notes and a lot of patience to make it anything publishable, and I’m not all that afraid of theft. Sure, I can’t prove that I’ve written it all in November, but it’s the best I can do. If anyone else would like to suggest a way for me to prove I’m telling the truth, I’d be open to all suggestions.
The reason I’m getting this off my chest now, rather than later in November, or another year, is that there’s a lot of commotion going on in the forums about what can and can’t be done, and it’s getting heated on all sides. I’m trying to stay out of it, because making enemies isn’t what I’m on that forum to do, and I’m hideously outnumbered. And the subject of this post isn’t to criticize marienbadmylove. I’ve said my piece about him, and that is all I plan to say. I won’t let him ruin the month for me, just as I won’t let anyone else. All I know is that I will be waiting here, computer on hand, as the clock ticks slowly towards midnight, with a fresh word document open, waiting to begin the month.
As for the how it’s not just random crap spurted out onto a page, which I can understand some would think, the answer is outlines, character pages, maps, and a good memory. If you put together everything I’ve written in preparation for this month, as much as I denigrate my laziness in other posts (which I am. Shamefully lazy), you’d still probably round up at least 30,000 words. Yeah, it’s going to need editing. But what written in a month, 50,000 words or a million, isn’t going to need editing at the end? But it’s not total crap. It’s not just stream of consciousness. I use contractions, I don’t break the fourth wall, and I’m fairly sure that in the four years I’ve done it so far, that I’ve not inserted text from another source (as quotes or anything else). If I run down the list of cheats, I’m 99.99% sure that I’ve not done any of them, and don’t plan to. (Again, not criticizing those who use them). I can read most of what I wrote last year and not wince too much. It’s a bit wordy, and I can tell where I got bored writing it, but I could sit down and read it, and it makes sense.
It has always been, and will always be my view that whether you write one word or a million, if you take the initiative and start that novel that’s always been hiding in the back corner of your mind, just because it’s November and NaNoWriMo, you’re a winner.