Not gonna do it. Nope. I’ve decided NaNoWriMo is not for me, at least for the foreseeable future.
I think the NaNo people are doing a great thing. Noble, in fact. Every year they relaunch on October 1st and every year I log back in to my account, thinking, this is my year. Write a novel* in 50,000 words! Write, write, write every day. Words, thy name is habit. But you know what? I don’t need NaNo.
So many amateur authors start out wanting to write the Great American Novel. Who can blame them? Walk in to any bookstore and you’ll be hard pressed to find more than a shelf or two in any given section dedicated to short stories. It’s implied that novels are where it’s at, baby. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ve come to an acceptance. I am a short story writer who may occasionally write novels, in the future. I am not a novelist who occasionally pens a short story.
I’m okay with this. In fact, I’m overwhelmed with satisfaction. I wrestled with the idea of NaNo this year, trying to decide between the two ideas competing for attention. Somewhere in that clash between dwarf-piloted airships firing lighting and that urban fantasy with magically-tattooed hunters, I realized something: I’m already doing exactly what I want to be doing.
I’m reading slush. I’m critiquing stories on OWW and two small groups online. I’m writing, more or less consistently. I’m editing. I’m submitting. I’m exploring dozens of ideas. I’m learning. We’re even planning, sometime in the next few years, to launch our very own shiny SF/F zine. You know what? I am completely happy with where I am and what I’m doing.
I don’t need to write a novel right now. I’ll tackle that challenge when I’m ready and feel like I have something worthy of the long form. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing short stories. I’ll keep revising and polishing and submitting. One of these days, I’ll get a sale, and then another. I’ll make a pro sale and finally join SFWA. And I’ll keep writing short fiction, until something grabs me so strongly that I can’t let go until I see it through to the end of something longer.
* half of a novel, for genre work