Why I Hate JANO…

We’re halfway through JANO 2012 – January Novel Writing Month (based on the well-known, but unfortunately timed NANO, or NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month in November).

I started this month with high hopes of writing massive amounts of words on my chosen book project, 50,000 words being the ultimate goal.  However, the experience of JANO has taught me a few things…

1)  The creators of JANO have mistakenly placed the event during an actual month on my calendar, rather than a fictional, faraway time of year that I can continue to schedule my writing for.

2)  The desire to add words to my daily count has an inverse relationship to my desire to wash dishes, fold laundry, cook meals, and do the work I actually get paid for.  This has had a negative effect on my ability to have guests in my home or receive a full paycheck.

3)  Participation in JANO requires specialized equipment.  Since the average person “thinks” approximately 15,000 words per day, I could complete my novel in less than four days if I only had a mind transcription machine.

4) Write-In events are far too restrictive. There is insufficient time scheduled for writing after catching up with friends, exchanging gossip, reading everyone else’s work to date, sipping a grande chai tea latte, and speculating on the circumference of construction workers’ biceps across the street.

5)  While JANO champions tout the “inspiration” that concentrated writing brings, I feel there needs to be an addendum to that sentiment.  Although I have been inspired to write blog posts, send messages to friends, plot three new novels, start a book discussion group, sign up for an Analysis of English literature course, and re-read “Elements of Style”, I have NOT been inspired to finish this @!*&% book!

6) The contests are elitest and unfair.  Requiring participants to produce a “first line”, “first page”, and “final count” makes the competition accessible only to those who start or finish a project.  There is no category for those who procrastinate, speculate, or marinate on an idea.

7)  No health risks were posted upon sign-up.  I have developed left-eye-muscle strain from continual glances at the corner of my screen to ascertain word count, and no warnings were given regarding possible hair loss, nail biting, or eye gouging.

8)  There is no exit program or halfway house in place for the end of the event.  How am I expected to continue in the months to come without daily updates from the competition and the lure of gift baskets and goodie bags?

9)  Information sharing leads to genre confusion.  After hearing other writers’ ideas and plot summaries, I am no longer content with my chosen category of writing, and feel an uncontrollable urge to pen a gothic-sci-fi-romance-steampunk-children’s poem about the apocalypse.

10)  None of my writing about writing goes towards my word count – including this 453-word post!

That being said, let’s carry on.  There are words to be written, and I need to get busy planning for next year’s JANO event!

JANO 2012

I’m very excited to be a part of JANO 2012 – the writer’s event that challenges participants to 50,000 words on a novel during the month of January!  Sponsored by Sleuths’ Ink, anyone can get in the game, with a minimum of rules.

1. Write, write, write, until you meet or exceed 50,000 words on January 31st.

2.  No editing!  (Save it for the months ahead.  Just get those words on paper!)

3.  All genres welcome!

I went to bed last night, on the last day of the year, thinking about how I would begin the next day.  I even woke at 1am with the thought that it was officially January, so I could start right then (but I am far too fond of my Tempur-pedic to leave it in the middle of the night).

Today began the first day of JANO, and I logged 2,350 words this morning!  I hope everyone who is joining the event has lots of success, inspiration, and unlimited amounts of caffeine as required.  If you’d like to be welcomed by an outstanding group with generous support, please visit their website.  Any writing that is accomplished (regardless of the target 50,000 words) is bound to be more than if you had never tried at all!

“Crummy Pap” or Classic Prose?

Technology can make a person feel like they just got pushed in the deep end of the pool.  Every new software release or “cutting-edge” gadget screams for attention – but is it the wave of the future, or just a shallow puddle?

E-books and Self-publishing get a lot of press today.  And when I see that much buzz about a game-changer in a field I love, I have one response – Scepticism.  (Should I fork over the dough for a Kindle, or a Nook, or wait or the next great thing?  I don’t know!)  But, I’m an open-minded gal, so I do a little research, a bit of querying friends, and then I remember my favorite barometer…history itself.  I came across this little nugget via Writer’s Almanac:

Sir Allen Lane, (born 1902), managing editor of London’s The Bodley Head, and later creator of Penguin Books, didn’t have anything to read on the train.  He had a long ride back from visiting one of his author’s – Agatha Christie – and refused the magazines and cheap literary fare available at the depot.  He thought, “Why isn’t there something good to read for sale, that people can afford?”  Penguin Pocket Books was born, making the hardbound publications accessible to everyone.

Writer’s Almanac reports,  “Lane was determined that paperbacks, then mostly low-quality products of low-quality writing, could be the vehicles of great, contemporary fiction… Like most innovations, Lane’s idea — and his success — was initially regarded as a cause for concern by many other publishers and writers. It lowered the aesthetic value of great works of literature — a book like The Grapes of Wrath, for example, needn’t be a beautifully bound hardcover to last a lifetime, but could instead exist as a nearly disposable pocket-sized tome in bright orange, adorned with a funny little bird in mid-waddle. But Lane claimed paperbacks would effectively democratize literature, converting frequent library users to book buyers and readers of crummy pap into readers of classic prose.”

Sounds a little like the furor over E-Readers, doesn’t it? 

How about the uproar about self-publishing?

As Steven Anderson (of GoldMinds Publishing) stated recently in a presentation (read more here), the publishing world has a history of trends – the era of hardbacks was replaced by the era of dime novels, then mass market paperbacks (thanks Sir Allen!).  Now we are faced with a new epoch in the life of literature – digital access, for both readers and writers.

Where do you stand on the issue of digital publishing?  Love e-readers, but hate self-publishers?  Devoted to paper books no matter who writes them?  Has history proven that changes in format and accessibility eventually find a balance

– and does quality rise to the top?

  Leave your comments below and give us YOUR perspective on publishing!