It's barreling down on us. National Novel Writing Month, that is. There are, apparently, a hundred people in Singapore who have confirmed their participation. Who knew there were so many in the Little Red Dot who harbored literary aspirations?
I'll tell you a secret. I ALWAYS wanted to be a paperback writer (though that term is outdated). I've never aspired (okay, briefly in college) to write the Great American Novel, or any novel with literary pretensions, really. I've always wanted to make my mark in genre fiction. Fantasy, Sci-Fi (no, they are not the same, no matter what signage the bookstores put up), horror, mystery: These are the fields I prefer to toil in.
Not that there is anything wrong with those who read or write more 'literary' works. I love Nabokov, I love Hemingway, I love dozens of others who wouldn't poke genre fiction with a sharp stick. But it's not a passionate love, for the most part. It's not the kind of love that makes you blind to faults. When I read Robert E. Howard, I know the prose is overblown and the plots thin. But the affection I feel for the creator of Conan allows me to look on those failings as you would the lack of social graces of a favorite uncle. When I read Conan Doyle, I can look beyond the stilted prose to the cunning, exciting plot and glimmers of truly fascinating characterization. Doyle is the uncle that is nothing like Howard, and yet somehow is exactly like Howard the odd couple of genre fiction. Or Conrad. He's the slightly insufferable uncle that nevertheless brings you the most extraordinary presents from far, far away, with stories to go along with them...
When I read Melville or Hawthorne or Milton on the other hand, I find myself having to think up excuses to forgive them their literary excesses. They make me tired. Like relatives who are good people, but with whom you share nothing in common except biology, you endure them during a visit but are mostly just glad when they leave so you can go do something you really want to do.
Anyway, NaNoWriMo is almost here. My Grand Design is to write something that takes from each of my three favorite uncles. I have no idea how to put the essence of Robert E. Howard, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Joseph Conrad into a book (without triggering the Apocalypse), but I figure NaNoWriMo is the time to try. After all, the slogan of NaNoWriMo is "No Plot? No Problem!" There will be weekend events for Singapore WriMos at Earshot, the cafe at the Arts House. The first is Saturday, 5 November from 1-3 pm.
I'll be there, plotless and unworried, trying to channel my three favorite literary uncles.