How It’s Made

Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” – John Godfrey Saxe

We are on the eve of a hallowed time in the writer’s calendar. At the stroke of midnight on November 1, thousands of people around the world will start the long and arduous process of writing a novel in 30 days. That’s right, National Novel Writing Month — or NaNoWriMo for the truly hip — is upon us. And most people are tired of hearing about it.

“Pretty much everyone you know and love thinks they have a book in them,” Hayley Campbell writes in a piece for The New Statesman. “And pretty much everyone you know and love has roughly 3,000 words of it written in a dead file in the back corner of a hard drive three computers ago that they won’t tell you about. You are not special.”

You see, not everyone wants to know how books are made. Like laws and sausages, it takes some of the mystique out of it for some. For others, like Campbell, they are simply tired of seeing their social media feeds clogged with insights into the creative processes of fair-weather writers.

Campbell and her compatriots have a point — there is nothing glamorous about writing. For all of our tweets and blog posts about where we find our inspiration and how we overcome the turbulent seas of plot and character, it all boils down to periods of typing interspersed with long silences. So much of the writer’s work is inner monologue that there isn’t all that much you can say to impress an outsider.

And yet, the blogs exist for a reason and readers flood the inboxes of their favorite authors asking for a glimpse into the psyche of someone who creates stories. Hundreds of books have been written about writing books. Despite the trivial, self-absorbed status updates that will spew forth during the next month, there is something in all of us that is fascinated by the process and wishes we had thought of it.

Yes, there will be a lot of talk about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, coffee, and crushed dreams in the coming weeks, when NaNo-ers should probably just put their heads down and work. But whether NaNoWriMo gets you fired up or makes you roll your eyes, we still all have that story inside of us and we secretly hope to discover a scrap of writerly wisdom that makes sense of the mystery — and I think we should encourage the searchers.

— 30 —

Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. He’s still on the edge about whether or not to write a novel this month, but you can always find him on Twitter.

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