When NaNoWriMo started, I had this arch post in mind. I clearly had a lot to say about writing – having written four unpublished novels! – and needed to get it out there. While I wouldn’t deprecate anyone’s writing efforts, I’d make sure they knew that rushing through a novel in a month didn’t really count. My goal wouldn’t be to make people feel stupid. Just small.
And then my friend RJ announced that he’d be writing every day this month. So I said, “Well, can’t do that, now.”
Let me make clear: it’s not that I scrapped my post because I thought it would hurt a friend’s feelings. I write about things that I think will offend my friends all the time. Plus, RJ’s made of sterner stuff than that.
I scrapped my post because, if NaNoWriMo got RJ to start writing more, I was obviously wrong.
In addition to being a good friend – he got me my last job, which has now turned into something of a career – RJ is one of the smarter and funnier people I know. He’s full of clever turns of phrase. He lives an interesting life. He’s one of the very few people I believe should write more.
Any trivial event (like NaNoWriMo) that gets RJ to write more is an obviously good thing. If some offhand comment of mine had discouraged RJ from writing – “eh, it’s only a blog post every day; it’s not really worth it” – that would have been terrible. I would have been taking joy out of the world. Thankfully I was lazy, and RJ started blogging before I could say something condescending.
And this got me wondering about what else my attitude might have got in the way of.
I know I don’t rule the lives of my (few) readers. But if I keep harping on something with the same dismissive tone, I have to imagine it’s dampening someone’s spirits. There’s a difference between talking someone out of doing something terrible (like going to grad school) and talking someone out of doing something that’s good but not great.
So while I might have a post about NaNoWriMo come the end of November, I’ll use a different tone. Not out of gentle consideration (I don’t have much in me). I don’t think everybody needs to write more. But I think that the people who do need to write more need to write more. And I don’t want to shut them up.
(In the meantime, read RJ’s stuff)