Cheating on NaNoWriMo

IS it cheating to participate in National Novel Writing Month but not write fiction?

Ok, so I know I said that I was not going to do NaNo … but they signed me up and now they are counting on me! Here’s what happened (for those who missed my earlier reference): I went to the site and found a forum where folks were discussing whether writing creative non-fiction for NaNo was allowed. Some said no and others, most of them, perhaps, said yes. It was weird seeing how the group mentality worked. “Oh, well, if you are doing it and I am doing it, then it must be allowed!” As the thread went along, more and more folks added in comments something along the likes of “Gee, there are so many of us doing memoir (or fill in the blank with any non-fiction genre) that it must be a type of novel.”

Now, you can call me legalistic, rigid, anal, whatever, but it seems to me that there IS a difference between fiction and, well, NON-fiction. In non-fiction one ought not to fabricate plot and characters. You’re stuck with what actually happened or as close an approximation to the truth as you can uncover through research. Yes, it’s true that in your attempts to tell the story, you may at times need to imagine more fully how something transpired. But it seems a stretch to say, gee, that must be fiction, then. To me, memoir/biography/autobiography is always striving to tell the truth, albeit from one perspective, but that person’s truth, at least. That doesn’t mean it isn’t creative or imaginative. Just that you have a different set of rules to follow than novelists.

So, just don’t do it, writinggb, you say??

Yeh. Well, that was my plan, but when I went on the forum and posted a comment, I inadvertently registered for NaNo, and now they think I’m doing it and are going to send me pep talks. I could use some pep talks.

Plus, NaNo means writing about 6 pages a day. I don’t think this would be hard for me, as I am a pretty experienced writer. That said, I have been procrastinating getting back into Grandma’s book, and a goal like that would really be helpful right now. Plus, here’s the clincher … I was sorta hoping to have a completed draft of the book done before I went to Peru in January so I could revise and edit in the spring semester, leaving summer for preparing for my return to teaching at sabbatical’s end. But I have not yet started writing again. How will I meet the goal of a complete draft if I don’t get crackin’?

But NaNo is all about speed and volume, and Grandma’s book is farther along than that — what I would be writing for NaNo is not a first draft hastily spewed ontyo the screen. Grandma wrote a rough draft years ago, and I interviewed her for three years, filling in the blanks. There’s going to be additional research to do to get the facts straight, too. Hmmm…maybe 6 pages a day isn’t do-able after all because it’s not just coming out of my head. Maybe NaNo would just prove discouraging. If I start and don’t finish, I’ll feel incompetent and discouraged. I know I would. Then again, I’m not feeling good about procrastinating either. Hmm.

So, I have less than 24 hrs. to decide. One thing’s for certain: if I am going to do NaNo, I must begin on day one. What should I do?

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4 Responses

  1. You know my thoughts. I say go for it. Prove you can do the 1700 words a day 🙂

  2. Sounds like a dare….

  3. I say go for it! I think they even have a screenplay section now, so a biography is got to count. Besides you’ll have all that commaraderie from fellow writers as we share our pain 🙂

  4. Thanks for the vote of confidence, hellyamber! Please see today’s post for my decision.

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