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Thursday, November 18, 2010

A commentary on Better Yet - Don't Write that Novel (for NaNoWriMo)

I recently read this article "Better Yet, DON'T Write that Novel" by Laura Miller that I would highly recommend. To give a brief summary, the author suggests that the world really needs more people devoting time to reading, and not to spending the hours to accomplish writing your novel for NaNoWriMo. I enjoyed the commentary. She starts out by describing why the world doesn't need the novels that come out of NaNoWriMo, and then finishes up with some interesting points about the reading habits of the American public.

I received this article in an e-mail from my father-in-law. He is a very well read and insightful man. He sends countless e-mails a week, to various people, and none of them involve the LOL cats. Some he composes himself, on issues of education, or personal matters. (One of his colleagues at the university where he works recently suggested that his e-mails should be archived as part of the university's institutional knowledge.) Many are articles he has read and chooses to pass on to us. I try to at least open every article he sends me, because when he sends an article he often chooses his recipients based on whether he thinks it would interest them. It isn't uncommon to receive four articles e-mailed back-to-back from him, so reading them through to completion is sometimes difficult. This one was one of my favorites though, and I made a point of discussing it with Mr. Hobby, to make sure he read this article as well.

As for whether or not NaNoWriMo is a good use of your time, that's something I'll let you decide for yourself. I'm wanting to talk about today that I strongly agree with the author's point about how important it is to read, and how important reading is to being a good writer.

I admit it, I am not an avid book reader these days. Ask me what I've read recently, and I'm likely to talk about a blog or a newspaper's website. I want this blog to be enjoyable, and I do think having a large number of blogs on diverse topics that I follow and read is ultimately beneficial to my blog. But if we're talking about picking up a novel to read, it is most likely something I've already read (like a Jane Austen novel) or by an author I've read (like Sophia Kinsella) and not a new book. I remember the days in high school and college literature classes, reading something completely new for the first time. After having heard the first few lines of A Tale of Two Cities parodied for most of my life, I remember the weeks of my sophomore year of high school when I read the entire novel for the first times, how all encompassing my moments with the novel were. I never would have picked the book up on my own though. That's why I've had my Mom's copy of The Grapes of Wrath on my book shelf for about five years now. Sure, I want to read the classics, but Pioneer Woman just posted a new recipe.

But I know how important reading is to writing - that's why my college writing minor required have the courses I took to be literature courses. So following in the path of the 10.10.10 blog project, I'm starting my own, albeit, much smaller project. Starting January, I'm going to read eleven new books, by 11.11.11.

While reading a book a month seems like a small number, I know it'll be a challenge, because, frankly, I love the internet. The only way I would be able to read 100 books in 10 months is if I was paid to do so - and could then use that money to pay someone to clean and cook and do the things I wasn't doing because I was reading. But eleven, eleven I'll find a way to manage. I'm not going to count the types of books I have read regularly since graduating from grad school (cook books and travel guidebooks). It will be 11 books, all new to me. I'm going to try to pick a diverse selection of books. I also want to try to stick with books that I already own, can borrow from a friend, or check out from the library. We'll see if I can avoid the allure of Amazon and its accurate recommendations. I'm very excited about my eleven books, and about sharing information and reviews of them with my blog readers!

But until January, I'm going to focus on finishing my Spanish class, and enjoying all the fun cooking, baking, socializing and shopping that comes with the holidays.

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