nanowrimoNarrativePsychologyStorytelling

I Won NaNoWriMo! What it means to me….

I won NaNoWriMo! National Novel Writing Month is over for me and my first draft novel is hovering around ninety two thousand words. The experiences of NaNoWriMo, for me, was gruelling as I had work commitments and family issues (as usual) in November. I think that sometimes writers get so bogged down in just getting the words on the page that they forget the greater good.
I read on the NaNoWriMo website that around 90000 people started and 17000 finished. Chris Baty’s collective word count as of today is 1,322,650,718 words. That really is amazing. In these uncertain times, where there is a lot of doom and gloom and the violence of the past days and months ranging from international terrorism to child abuse cases in the UK, people have still managed to use their imaginations and conjured up stories.
In my professional field of narrative psychology, there is a theory that everything except the present moment is fiction. The way that our mind sorts thoughts and memories into schemas is fragmented, and anytime we remember, we are filling in the gaps with stored information. So we may remember the key points but we fit our own ‘truth’ around them. Similarly for the future, we may have a fair idea of what will happen but we can only guess how and when it will happen, based on memories. In effect, only the present moment is real and everything else is a social construction based around individual personal, interpersonal and societal influences.
The personal script that emerges when we write creatively is storytelling, and storytelling is so important in passing on the interpersonal and societal influences, to create points of reference to fill in the gaps in the past and present in thinking. I see it as a type of anchor that can create back-up points in history. Take two types of storytelling: the top down media influenced storytelling, which is heavily influenced by corporate finance and politics, and bottom up personal storytelling which is influenced by mind schemas. Usually the media is winning by a mile in it’s influencing of the words generated and mediated at one time. I like to think of NaNoWriMo as a collection of minds working towards a personal view of the world making a big dent in the mediated world of words, a sort of speeded up recording of how we actually think as opposed to how we are told to think by TV, radio, films, newspapers and magazines. The writers who take part, no matter if they complete or not, are recording individual views of the world, so precious and unique compared with the mass produced, money-driven words of corporations and companies.
This leads to the obvious question of whether paid writers (authors?) cross over into media driven markets once they are published or not, but that’s another blog for another day.
So, I’m celebrating my part in creative thinking and writing, and celebrating everyone who took part in NaNoWriMo 2008 – onwards and upwards!

5 thoughts on “I Won NaNoWriMo! What it means to me….

  1. Huge congratulations! And, yes, a fascinating post. Coming at it from the other end, as it were, the novelist Stevie Davies says that fiction’s deepest concerns are history and memory – her wonderful novel The Eyrie bears this out – and I know that in my own work my novels (so far) always seem to end up being about characters sorting out their past (which of course is largely a matter of sorting out how they see their past) as part of changing the future they’re inevitably heading into. Maybe it also has implications for the endless discussion of whether narratives are cast in past or present tense? I’ve linked to your blog on mine (and great blog name – I love a good paradox!)

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