Today I briefly considered joining my provincial writer’s guild. I thought being part of a guild will help validate my writing. Like being part of the club will mean I was in. I could make witty lit small talk at book releases and at the guild’s annual conference. Maybe I could run into Ibi Kaslik again and we would have one too many G&Ts and hop into a cab and let an ellipsis say the rest…
I visited the guild’s page, to remind myself why I have refused to join in the past, and I saw their notice about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which is November—or, if you are a writer, every fucking month.
The guild is advertising events in and around the provincial capital, far from my city in the middle of the prairie. But it looks exciting: parties, write-ins, presentations from authors. It is an encouraging event…as the guild’s website proclaims, NaNoWriMo is, “for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.”
Fleetingly. That is a funny word, especially in reference to novels.
I never want to read a novel by someone who had a fleeting idea about it. That is the problem with pulp novels, isn’t it? I could never articulate it before, but the word ‘fleeting’ is poignant—what I find most irritating about ‘cookie cutter’ authors like Danielle Steele and E.L. James is that their work is flippant. Like they were making tea—or *cough-cough* reading a popular teen trilogy—and thought, fleetingly, ‘Hey, I could write a book.’
Sure, why not.
Anybody can write a novel, just like anybody can be prime minister or anybody can be a reality TV star. So go ahead and join NaNoWriMo, and write your 50,000 words, and leave them unedited to collect digital dust on your hard drive. Why not? Because maybe your whim to write is fleeting. That is fine. But let those who are haunted be read. Haunting words are anything but fleeting. And they are not exclusive to November.