one of the most boring things in the world is watching a person write
October 22, 2014 5:31 AM   Subscribe

 
Ah, quit your whining, Campbell. You got a paid non-article out of it.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:35 AM on October 22, 2014 [16 favorites]


Does she think that it's less boring to watch a person grouch about watching people write?
posted by painquale at 5:37 AM on October 22, 2014 [14 favorites]


When you do it with humor as she did, then yes, vastly more so.

She could have cut everything but the last sentence in the name of economy, but then I wouldn't have had a good chuckle.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:40 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


where was the humor?
posted by thelonius at 5:42 AM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Thank God someone is carrying on Dave Barry's legacy.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:45 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I figure everyone has a book in them but most people are sensible enough to realize whether it should be let out or not.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:50 AM on October 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Wonderful, it's November: time for the annual crop of smugly "original", terribly boring and usually very badly written articles about how no one cares about your novel.

I wish I had a Twitter filter for those.
posted by daisyk at 6:11 AM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


where was the humor?

Useless debating aesthetic preferences, in my experience. I read a lot of amusingly-phrased truth in that essay. YMMV.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:13 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


So the question is: Which is more boring, hearing someone talk about writing a book about a dream they had, or hearing someone talk about a dream they had about writing a book?
posted by Bugbread at 6:24 AM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


As a failed novelist, I can wholly empathize with the author's viewpoint.

From a stylistic viewpoint, the last sentence would read better as "Just shut the fuck up and write."
posted by Renoroc at 6:27 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I like to cast my dick net wide.
#NaNoWriMoOpeners
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:28 AM on October 22, 2014 [11 favorites]


So the question is: Which is more boring, hearing someone talk about writing a book about a dream they had, or hearing someone talk about a dream they had about writing a book?

Dreaming you're hearing someone talk about writing a book, because then you have no one to blame but your own brain.
posted by daisyk at 6:37 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


... one of...
posted by sammyo at 6:42 AM on October 22, 2014


Just out of spite, I'm going to write a novel that's just somebody talking about writing a novel... And I'm going to talk about it the whole time.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:42 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I literally JUST posted to my social media that I have a first sentence that I can't wait to write down. I guess I'm going to be super obnoxious.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:48 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty much certain I'm never going to actually follow through with my brilliant "NoNoWriNoMo (November No Writing, No More)" parody wherein people are annually challenged to, honestly, just give it up already... So I'll just put that one out there to be exploited by the first taker.

Despite my apparent partisanship with the sentiment though, ugh, there are few things more annoying than pontificating on what/whom you block on social media. Ignoring: you're doing it wrong.
posted by nanojath at 6:48 AM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Writers sure do have pretty strong opinions on how other writers should live their lives.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:51 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Ungh! People and the aspirations! Over it!"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:53 AM on October 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


Yes, if you don't care about your friends' projects and aspirations you are probably a bad friend.
posted by a dangerous ruin at 6:54 AM on October 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Others will talk about how they made themselves cry with a scene they just wrote, how they broke their own dumb heart.

This made me laugh, because I really did that one time, while writing a science fiction story. I really empathized with that sad robot.
posted by itstheclamsname at 7:11 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


nobody cares that you don't care

but obviously you do care

because you wrote an article about it

well, i guess i know what my next nanowrimo will be about:

werewolf boxers
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:20 AM on October 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Jeez. I wasn't going to do NaNo this year because I'm pretty tied up with working full time and going to school full time, but now I sort of want to do it just to spite this whiny asshole.
posted by palomar at 7:23 AM on October 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Oh, come on, this is ridiculous.

People are trying to write a novel in a month. It's a serious slog. So they solicit support from their social circles to keep going. Good for them. If you're not interested, block it out.

(On preview, what Palomar said...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:24 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just shut up and fucking write it.

Hyperbole aside, there are plenty of online hobby communities that seem to be at least 95% about oohing over new equipment and accessories, setting up better systems and workspaces, "inspiration", and self-congratulation on their identity as a [hobby]er, with very little evidence that anyone ever closes the browser and puts in the graft of actually doing the hobby.

That's fine, obviously: hobbies are about having fun, and if they (if I'm honest, "we") are enjoying that, then more power to them us. But there is a difference between the hobbies of e.g. "writing" and "being seen to be a writer", and I can see how it'd be grating for someone who feels like they've put in the graft and really earned that identity. If nothing else, how will people notice you being disarmingly humble about a status that all your damn dilettante friends are shouting from the rooftops?

werewolf boxers
That could mean several things, all of them pretty great.
posted by metaBugs at 7:30 AM on October 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


People will go into Settings and then Profile and delete “aspiring writer” from their bio and put instead: WORDSMITH. WORD DOCTOR. WORD ALCHEMIST. DREAMWEAVER. Plus actor. Or whatever.

This took me to a very darkplace.
posted by johnnydummkopf at 7:54 AM on October 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


I laughed a few times when I read this. I like grumps, and I think that it's hard to separate writing from all the things that surround and try to overwhelm it and make really great distractions. I also remember, in the days before social media, telling my whole writing class how I'd brought myself to tears with something I'd written, a passage which I believe started with the words, "Quietly. Quietly now. No one can hear this." CAN'T YOU FEEL HOW IT BUILDS? THE SADS? CAUSE HE'S CRYING HIMSELF. (How did I get to write so beautifully? I don't know man, I just, you know, WENT with it. You'll have to find your own way.)

I also thought of this when I read the article and then read y'all. This, like my lapidary prose humbly submitted above, was written in 1993. There are now so many more ways to slack and dither, and only a month to pack them all into!

http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/18/reviews/pynchon-sloth.html


Anyway, I'm doing this with a friend. I have a little notebook and I'm writing little notes in it, getting myself ready. I don't know how it'll turn out, but I'm looking forward to giving it a shot. I do believe that part of the problem is the unutterability of the hashtag. Try bringing up "NaNoWriMo" without making a face that conveys either disgust or embarrassment or apology. I can't do it.
posted by mcdeeder at 8:07 AM on October 22, 2014


werewolf boxers

Lycaon's briefs were itchy and confining. He longed for a better way to clothe his lupine loins, but what other options were there?
posted by echo target at 8:19 AM on October 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


I enjoy hearing about how people write. A great deal, in fact. I also like hearing other people tell about their dreams, and have absolutely no idea why so many people claim that it's boring listening to people talk about dreams.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:28 AM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Hayley Campbell is the daughter of Eddie Campbell, noted comics memoirist. So, she gets a lot of leeway from me, because I can always picture her as a ranting teenager when she writes screeds about how much she doesn't care about something someone else is doing.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 8:38 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm saying nothing except: since last June, I consider myself permanently disqualified from NaNoWriMo.

(Wrote the first draft of a novel in 18 days. It's coming out next July in hardcover from Ace (and Orbit in the UK). The NaNoWriMo self-ban is because I wrote the first 51,000 words of it in the first 167 hours, i.e. NaNoWriMo's target plus 2%, in an hour less than one week. Yes, I'm goddamn bragging about it: I think I've earned it.)
posted by cstross at 8:43 AM on October 22, 2014 [15 favorites]


werewolf boxers

Beware the Southpaw.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:49 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Lycaon's briefs were itchy and confining. He longed for a better way to clothe his lupine loins, but what other options were there?

Introducing Lycrathropestm! The stretchy shorts for that "changeable time of the month." Available at selected boutiques near you.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:50 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


As a sucker who struggles with (a) writing and (b) boring the shit out of people by talking about it, the article amused me greatly. Not blathering on about the work is difficult. I SO WANT TO BORE PEOPLE WITH MY NATTERINGS. To avoid boring the shit out of other people, I have a designated writin' buddy with whom I exchange a weekly-or-so email that discusses progress and problems. This week's email included the phrases "mayhem and disinterest" and "dumpster fire."

I recommend this approach to anyone considering boring the world via Twitter or Facebook. That way, at the end of November, there's only one person who will roll their eyes at the very thought of you and your literary labors.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 8:52 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


What a grumpygus. I like talking about the writing process as I go along and people can choose to read my inane ramblings or not - musing aloud sometimes helps me to break things out of sticky places, sometimes it's just healthy to vent a little frustration. Everyone has their own way of doing things that helps them, not everyone has to be a silent recluse living alone with their words.
posted by angeline at 8:52 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


As a recovering academic, all I can say is this: sifting through thousands of letters between authors and their fathers, wives, children, friends, mistresses, manstresses, wine merchants, lawyers, accountants, interior decorators and ironworkers was bad enough. Imagine the poor sadsack students of the future having to wade through a stagnant sea of mindless commentary tagged as #amwriting in order to find that one amazing piece of information about their author's writing process that is so obviously and incontrovertibly the lynch-pin of their entire argument and if they could just find that one glimmering gem of insight in the great slag heap of Twitteralia then their dissertation would absolutely, positively write itself, and they would be forever free of the chains binding them to the cliffs of academic despair, dammit!
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 8:58 AM on October 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything...
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 9:00 AM on October 22, 2014


Oddly enough, I had never heard about NaNoWriMo until two weeks ago, right after I launched a Kickstarter to publish my own book - which is ending on the same day as NaNoWriMo starts (nice move, idiot). Looking into it, I discovered that there was a local "nano-prep" meeting in the big-name hotel right next door to where I live, put on by the local fiction writer's organization.

"Ooh, that sounds sorta interesting. Maybe I can talk to some other writers, see how they do things, get some ideas or feedback, see if I this is something I want to participate in." Eager little old me hustled myself, freshly scrubbed and decked out in clean slacks and a nice shirt to the location, never mind the miserable weather (cold and heavy rain).

Directions were... not just incomplete, but incorrect. The arrows indicating where the nano-prep was located at were 180 degrees wrong, and let me tell you, the hotel was huge. It was a good thing that I had arrived early, because it took me ten minutes to retrace my steps and find the right spot.

Which was still occupied by their yearly gathering and awards ceremony, apparently running past their own scheduled end time.

As I was waiting, a few other people arrived, apparently for the nano-prep conference. Pleasantries were exchanged, but the six of them apparently knew each other, and proceeded to talk about how they are so excited about NaNoWriMo, and what was your last book, I love your stories, etc. Trying not to be creepy but still being able to overhear what they were saying, I tuned them out a bit until "they don't get many men for these", which jerked me out of my self-imposed meditative state.

It was then that I realized that, yes, I was the only man there in that tiny group of seven, and that, without exclusion, they were all writers of romantic fiction. And that after thirty minutes, we were still waiting for the main group to conclude so that our nano-nano-prep could begin.

As I was in the process of pulling up the page on my phone for the organization that was putting on the prep and their own conference (which I later found out was a two-day affair that cost $105 per person to attend), they finally opened the doors and people began to leave. A quick headcount showed that not only that the ratio of 1:6 male-to-female was low, it was more like 1:10 or higher. A glance at the web page on my cell phone confirmed what I had been overhearing, as it finally filtered through my subconscious and meshed with my observations of the attending mass of people.

"A proud member of the romance writer's club."

Suddenly everything became clear, and I realized that, as a lone writer of science fiction that has very few friends and even less social networking skills, that perhaps I would be better off sticking with my own methods, which involved more of a nice dark stout in a heavy glass, and less waiting around as awards for the best erotic romantic fiction were handed out.

So without a further word, and casting only a glance of commiseration at the few men that were straggling out, not certain if they were here willingly or not, I made my escape, retreating on foot.

Sadly, the rain had not let up.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:01 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


cstross: "The NaNoWriMo self-ban is because I wrote the first 51,000 words of it in the first 167 hours, i.e. NaNoWriMo's target plus 2%, in an hour less than one week."

Completely sincere "Fucking awesome!"s to you, good sir, but please refrain from posting such victories on the NaNoWriMo site! Those poor bastards are hard enough on themselves without success staring them in the face.
posted by barnacles at 9:08 AM on October 22, 2014


Ah, the backlash against the backlash. Let the people enjoy their hobbies! Let other people be unnecessarily annoyed by them!

I have to admit, NaNoWriMo bugs me, in the same way Doctor Who bugs me: nothing against either, I've just heard about them too much for my taste. That's not a very strong reason to dislike something, so it's best that I just let it slide and hope others do the same for my continued doge jokes and pumpkin spice everything.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:25 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dang, cstross. I had been bragging about finishing a 20-page comic in three weeks this past August, but I may have to stop doing that now.
posted by nonasuch at 9:30 AM on October 22, 2014


Imagine the poor sadsack students of the future having to wade through a stagnant sea of mindless commentary tagged as #amwriting in order to find that one amazing piece of information about their author's writing process that is so obviously and incontrovertibly the lynch-pin of their entire argument and if they could just find that one glimmering gem of insight in the great slag heap of Twitteralia then their dissertation would absolutely, positively write itself, and they would be forever free of the chains binding them to the cliffs of academic despair, dammit!

Now that is an excellent idea for a novel!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:03 AM on October 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Just shut up and fucking write it."

That's kind of what all the advice boils down to and look, it's only seven words!
posted by Tevin at 10:31 AM on October 22, 2014


Novel writing could be a spectator's sport: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogPZ5CY9KoM
posted by macrael at 10:34 AM on October 22, 2014


Actually, if anyone has advice on how to talk about what you are writing with anyone who's not editing your work without sounding like a total wanker I'd be happy to hear it. Is it possible? I honestly don't know.
posted by Tevin at 10:40 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Tevin, I actually was just at Capclave, a small DC-area SF con that's very writing-focused, and spent much of it talking about my own and other peoples' writing-in-progress. Basically from what I can tell it gets annoying when you are just describing the worldbuilding/plot endlessly at someone, but if you are having an actual conversation about how to make the story better, or trying to solve a problem you are having with it, that can be a really fun and interesting discussion.

(also Holly Black took about eight seconds to pinpoint what's wrong with the YA novel I wrote a while back, and now I know how to fix it! WOO.)
posted by nonasuch at 11:37 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm sure my Facebook posts about play rehearsals are dead boring to a lot of people on my feed, but then again a lot of the baby photos and school photos and updates about teething aren't really too interesting to me, and I'd never say, "Just shut up and PARENT, wouldya?"
posted by xingcat at 12:12 PM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Novel writing by Monty Python was kinda fun though....
posted by vac2003 at 2:18 AM on October 23, 2014


Hyperbole aside, there are plenty of online hobby communities that seem to be at least 95% about oohing over new equipment and accessories, setting up better systems and workspaces, "inspiration", and self-congratulation on their identity as a [hobby]er, with very little evidence that anyone ever closes the browser and puts in the graft of actually doing the hobby.

I have a lot of friends that spent thousands of dollars on synths, etc, and post about it on fb all the time, but the one guy I know with an actual career made the first track he signed with nothing but a pirated copy of Reason on a cheap windows pc.

It seems to me that the difference between a hobbyist and an artist is that an artist spends more time doing work than talking about doing work. It's got nothing to do with any sort of innate talent and more to do with persistence and effort. If you want to be a 'real' novelist, one month isn't enough. One year isn't enough. Try more like 10 years of constant, ongoing struggle.
posted by empath at 8:56 AM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


So we just don't do literary criticism or theory at all anymore, especially not if we're writers, eh? I'm going to demand a refund on my literary critical theory coursework.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:42 PM on October 23, 2014


« Older \|/ \|/ \|/ \|/ practical (& fun) conservation...   |   To modern ears they sound like nothing short of... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments