NaNoWriMo – The Verdict

I didn’t write 50,000 words – so I don’t get the badge. But I wouldn’t have got it anyway, as I never bothered to sign up officially on the site. Even as I began I doubted that I’d complete the big 50k but I’m still a little disappointed.

50,000 words was a big and daft ambition as I’m mothering most of the time right now and I needed to check the proofs of Cold Light during November. But more than this, I couldn’t leave my research alone.

I’ve been reading up on cognitive dissonance. Researching the way people who have an opinion on something will filter out any evidence that seems to contradict that opinion. Even scientists, if there’s room for interpretation of their results and someone with an interest is paying them.

One of the ways we overcome a particular kind cognitive dissonance is called Sour Grapes.

Well, I didn’t want the stupid NaNoWriMo badge anyway…

I have been reading about historical revisionism – the way organisations do this and why, and how they’re able to resolve the dissonance between claiming to be honest and reliable while spinning / editing /  censoring and lying about themselves by claiming (and really believing) that they are enhancing, clarifying, simplifying and improving. And how on the smaller scale individuals in bad marriages do this.

I was reading more about memories. Revising things I already knew. We’re all bad historians of our own lives. We all revise. We all have blind spots about our own self justification (the means by which we sometimes resolve dissonance) but others’ is glaring.

We’re all biased, unreliable hypocrites.

I know these things have always been interesting and important to me. In one way or another all my writing is circling around the problem of telling the truth, and of using words to do it. But I have been realising why it is so important to me. I don’t want to say any more about it right now, other than it has been tiring.

I found it all so interesting that although I was able to plan the rest of my chapters and write a lot more than I thought I was going to, and that I solved a couple of plot and character problems, and found out what I needed to know about Crufts, and decided I needed to know a tiny bit more about postmen and about fixing cars, and I got over the blank-page doldrums, I didn’t get 50,000 words.

Oh well.

Hooray for everyone else who participated! 

3 responses to “NaNoWriMo – The Verdict”

  1. D J Harrison says:

    Only 50,000 words in a whole month! Luxury. You youngsters don’t know you’re born. When I was a lad we used to have to write out the Oxford English Dictionary before breakfast just for practice. And not the concise version either.

  2. Don’t be disappointed Jenn, it sounds like you’ve done a huge amount of work, wordcounts aside. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even contemplate signing up because I know I can’t write 50000 words in a month. Well, I could, but beyond a certain point, that kind of relentless production, squeezed in between school-runs and family life, would leave me producing reams of rubbish, which seems to me a waste of energy if it’s just going to end up being deleted in the pale light of dawn.

    Of course, people will shake their heads at this and call it a lame excuse, and I’m sure the scheme has encouraged a huge amount of writing. But (bah) I bet there’s a equally huge amount, a lot of hours’ work ultimately heading for the cyber-wastebin. (Ooh, I’m not in a good mood today….) I don’t think that’s sour grapes, I think it’s being realistic. (and grumpy)

  3. Jane Eagland says:

    Jenn, no wonder you feel tired! You’ve obviously achieved loads! And I’m particularly interested in your research areas(I mean truth and dissonance rather than Crufts and postmen and cars, thought I’m sure these are fascinating too). What fascinating topics – and topical too with Wikileaks leaking all over the place. (Though why the media are getting so excited about it I don’t know, since I didn’t think it was a secret that what people say in public isn’t the same as they say in private…)
    I am most intrigued and hope you will say more about this in due course – and looking forward even more to the next novel, if this is one of its themes.

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