Before I undertook the NaNoWriMo challenge, there was another challenge I had to complete:
When I was much younger, and the dreams of being a writer were equally young I read John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction; it was probably the very first book on fiction writing I ever read. It went soundly over my head (I knew next to nothing about literary theory back then), and it almost put me off writing for good. In the book, Gardner (a guy I idolized after reading Grendel in a high school literature class) writes that most writing by students is complete and utter shit and that there is little hope of improvement… at least that’s how I interpreted the book back then. The book defeated me, and it was unfortunate because I stopped writing because of it.
Fast-forward to October 2011; I decided to re-read Gardner’s book, determined to see if I was wrong about my youthful assessment… I was. Gardner’s Art of Fiction had a lot to do with me participating in NaNoWriMo, it inspired me – his message was clear: all student writing is complete and utter shit with little or no hope of improvement, unless you use his strategies and techniques to harness your voice and craft fiction as art. Fiction as art… that I could get behind, and I was determined not to prove Gardner wrong but to create the biggest, heftiest, smelliest piece of fiction shit I could write.