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Around Town: It's time to write your novel

November 11, 2010|By Anita S. Brenner

I was marching down Foothill Boulevard, fuming. My only companion was our black Lab rescue dog, Miss Audrey Hepburn.

I was fuming because Salon's editor, Laura Miller, had blasted a well-established, international creative writing project known as NaNoWriMo, or National Write a Novel in a Month.

This year, more than 175,000 writers have committed to compose a complete novel, of at least 50,000 words, between Nov. 1 and midnight on Nov. 30.The project began in San Francisco in 1999 with 21 participants. Only six of them finished.

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This year, NaNoWriMo is armed with a grant from Amazon.

Laura Miller's beef with NaNoWriMo is in her OpEd piece entitled, "Better yet, DON'T write that novel: Why National Novel Writing Month is a waste of time and energy."

Miller opines: "I am not the first person to point out that 'writing a lot of crap' doesn't sound like a particularly fruitful way to spend an entire month, even if it is November. And from rumblings in the Twitterverse, it's clear that NaNoWriMo winners frequently ignore official advice about the importance of revision; editors and agents are already flinching in anticipation of the slapdash manuscripts they'll shortly receive."

Snarky? Absolutely. Hogwash? Yes!

The following published novels have been drafted during NaNoWriMo:

• Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, "Persistence of Memory" (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2008).

• Gayle Brandeis, "Self Storage" (Ballantine Books, 2007).

• Jessica Burkhart, "Take the Reins" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).

• Sarah Dooley, "Livvie Owen Lived Here" (Feiwel and Friends, 2010).

• Ann Gonzalez, "Running for My Life" (WestSide Books, 2008)

• T. Greenwood, "The Hungry Season" (Kensington, 2010).

• Sara Gruen, "Flying Changes" (HarperCollins, 2005), "Water for Elephants" (Algonquin, 2007) and "Ape House" (Spiegel & Grau, 2010).

• Denise Jaden, "Losing Faith" (Simon Pulse, 2010).

• Lani Diane Rich, "Time Off for Good Behavior" (Warner Books, 2004), "Maybe Baby" (Warner Books, 2005) and "Wish You Were Here" (Warner Books, 2008).

• Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen, "The Compound" (Feiwel and Friends, 2008).

More importantly, Miller forgets that NaNoWriMo is a writing exercise. The month is devoted to pure writing, with editing to follow. So what if a few novices mail their manuscripts to publishers? Gee whiz, Laura Miller. Way to rain on the parade.

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