How many? You’ve got to be kidding!

As of last night, only four days into NaNoWriMo, the total collective word count wrenched from 185,587 word-weary brains is an incredible 417,497,927. We won’t discuss the quality of those words. Some will be little better than gibberish, although some — mine included, of course 🙂 — are creating a legitimate novel.

Not everyone sees the point in this thirty-day exercise. The web has been a-twitter (oops, sorry about that) over a post at by Laura Miller suggesting we shouldn’t bother to write; it’s just a waste of time and energy.

Carolyn Kellogg of the LA Times took her to task with a searing rebuttal, calling the article “at best wrongheaded, and at worst, smallhearted.”

Then Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management added a blog post about it yesterday. He says, “I think the communal aspect of NaNoWriMo is fantastic–being held accountable is important. If participating means more butt-in-chair time, then I approve. For authors, I think it can be a great exercise, one through which you can learn new techniques and strategies that can be employed long after the month has passed.”

He does side with Ms. Miller on one point, however, and it’s well made. “If you want to write, read. Reading is absolutely the first, most important step to becoming a writer. And while I have a feeling that many people participating in NaNoWriMo are readers–and probably big readers at that–there are plenty of people who aspire to write books, and even attempt to write them, that don’t read.”

So, my question for all you writers is, whether you’re Wrimos or not, what are you reading right now — not what’s on your TBR pile, but what’s open on your coffee table (or better still, your lap) at this moment?

(I’m reading James Scott Bell’s THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS and Gina Holmes’ CROSSING OCEANS. And for any of you who care to know, my contribution to the collection of NaNo words as of Thursday midnight is 4,009. Not exactly a huge achievement yet, but I’m working to improve it.)

At this moment, though, I’m neither reading nor writing. I’m falling asleep as my fingers tap away at the keyboard, so I think I’ll have to call it a night. (Can one call it a night if it’s actually morning?)



Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

14 thoughts on “How many? You’ve got to be kidding!

  1. At the moment, I’m reading Linchpin by Seth Godin. I subscribe to his blog because he makes me think. I’m using his ShipIt technique for my writing projects – at least I’m starting to.

  2. I’m currently reading the Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I thought it would be sappy and I wouldn’t like it but oh, I was so wrong. I can’t put it down. Luckily it is very long so I’ll get to savor it for a few days!

  3. Laura Miller’s irritating & ‘self-important’ rant was way off base – & Carolyn Kellogg’s smackdown was deserved & very well done. I don’t have the time to invest in taking on the NaNo challenge, but I admire the effort & best intentions of the participants. Heck, I admire anyone that makes the stretch to take on any creative project.

    Totally agree that writers need to read. Recently finished FAVORITE by Karen McQuestion – YA, geared more for girls frankly, but since I write YA, I make an attempt to keep up. Currently reading KEY LIME BLUES by Mike Jastrzebski & WRECKERS’ KEY by Christine Kling. Both are thrillers (so far they’re very entertaining) written by bloggers that make up part of the team from the site Write On The Water – & they happen to live a mile or so from my temporary home here in Ft Lauderdale. On the lighter side, I’m reading about the life of Benjamin Franklin & just started PIRATE LATITUDES by Michael Chrichton (the title got my attention as you can imagine – had to check it out – thankfully my title came out a year before his). Within the next couple of weeks I’ll be reading books by 2 of my very good friends – DEAD WITNESS by Joylene Butler (from your neck of the woods) & BOX OF LIES by Mark LaFlamme (a collection of horror stories – he’s a journalist/crime reporter & general ‘sicko’ based in Maine).

    Suppose I got carried away – but 5 of the books mentioned above are authored by friends from blogs, which I think is kinda cool.

  4. Wow, thought provoking debate there. I’m a fan of NaNoWriMo, a past participant, and someone who has written two novels during NaNo that have gone on to be published.

    I’m reading research books right now for some upcoming titles. Gilded Girls: Women Entertainers of the Old West by Chartier and Enss, The Harvey Girls by Poling-Kempes, and for fun and a little research A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick.

  5. I do love to read and wish I had time to read more. I haven’t read the pro and con arguments about NaNoWriMo. I have only one reason for not participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I am a caregiver to my husband; he is struggling with Alzheimer’s. This is my first calling and its a time grabber. If I had available hours, I’d be crunching out a first draft with the rest of the NaNoWriMo writers, definitely, purposefully, and enthusiastically.

    Great word count, Carol, and you’re still managing to produce a great post on your blog! Blessings to you a thousandfold…

  6. I’m still reading War and Peace, however I’m closing in on the end fast. I think I’ve read over 200 chapters. I’m also working diligently on my sequel to Broken But Not Dead. I have thought of doing NaNo, but Nov doesn’t seem the right month. Altho it probably is. Too cold to go outside. Too soon to visit some tropical climate. Hmm. Maybe November is the perfect month. Yikes, what am I saying. I’ve written 5 books. I don’t need encouragement. What I really need to know is… how do they know if you’ve written anything or not?

    As for the naysayers, they need to whine about something or they lose their titles.

  7. I’m rereading TRAVELING MERCIES by Anne Lamott. Also reading FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD by Neale Walsch, and just finished rereading DON’T GET TOO COMFORTABLE by David Rakoff. (Yes, I always read more than one book at a time!)

  8. Ah, so it’s a honour system until the end. That was what I was wondering. I wonder if it means I can’t be trusted and hence the question. LOL. Good for you for doing this again this year, Carol. I’m darn proud of you, Wildwood Gal!

  9. Wonderful post, Carol. I am not participating in nano, but I may next year. I’m working on a new nf book on prayer.

    Reading mostly the Bible, also The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, More by Andy Rooney, and Who Calls Me Beautiful? whose author’s name escapes me at the moment. Just finished The Shack and The Preacher’s Bride.

  10. THEN WE CAME TO THE END by Joshua Ferris. I was, in my former life, a graphic designer in the advertising world. His novel resonates, has the most in-depth yet accessible character development, and has wonderful, quirky not-quite-what-you-expected plot twists. LOVE THIS BOOK. So much that I’m having trouble working on my Wrimo submission, because I’m so caught up in reading.

    Also in the midst of being read is one of Rita Mae Brown’s Sneaky Pie murder mysteries; a Wayne Dyer book; Larry McMurtry’s LITERARY LIFE; Smullyans’ THE TAO IS SILENT; and Lisa Jone’s BROKEN. Just as I have several knitting WIPs (Works In Progress) at any one time, so do I also have several RIPs (Readings In Progress).

  11. It’s great to see from all your comments that there are some good books being read out there. I’m in awe of those who are juggling the reading of several at once. I can usually manage one non-fiction and one fiction simultaneously, but I really prefer to devour just one at a time. With all the extra writing I’m trying to squeeze into a day I’m not making fast progress in the reading department. Ah, well… priorities, priorities. 🙂

  12. Popped over here from the comment you left on my blog. Currently reading Mercedes Lackey’s Magic’s Price – and it’s on my phone! I love that I can just pick up reading where I left of anywhere I have my phone with me. As far as Nano goes, even though I’m not participating, the principles of nano have served me very well as a new writer.

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