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My No-vember post

This isn't my first post in November, but it is my No-vember post. In case you don't follow these things, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the month in which a whole bunch of folks commit to trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days (1,667 words per day).

Am I doing NaNoWriMo? No
Have I ever done NaNoWriMo? No
Do I have any plans to do NaNoWriMo? No

Are you seeing a trend? But don't think I'm knocking NaNoWriMo. I think it's a great idea, and I applaud those with the ambition and drive to do it. If it jumpstarts some folks into writing, that's wonderful. But it's not something I get worked up over, because a) in the past 15 years, I have never needed a jumpstart, and b) it seems to me that writing novels, whether as an occupation or an avocation, is in no danger of dying out. What we really need, at least in the US, is NaNoReMo, a month in which everyone commits to reading at least one novel. It's an idea I've seen people mention online but no one seems to have attempted to actually organize such a thing.

Reading as a form of entertainment is what is in decline. I don't agree with Philip Roth's famous pronouncement that novel readers will become "a minority cult" in 25 years, but I do think as a group, book readers have declined in numbers.

Think about it in terms of time. If you've got 24 hours a day and seven days a week, that's 168 in one week. Allow 40 for earning a living, five hours for commuting (for me it's more like 10), and 56 for sleeping, that leaves only 67 hours to do absolutely everything else. Once you factor in the essentials like grocery shopping, running errands, doing housework, cooking, eating, playing with your kids/pets, chauffeuring them around, and reading a newspaper, you are running low on time.

And what's available to fill those precious leisure hours? TV, movies, concerts, video games, outdoor activities, music, the gym, restaurants, and books and magazines. Except for reading, everything else is (or in the case of video games, can be) a social activity, done with other people. Reading doesn't help squeeze in time with your spouse or kids. Of course, people who take public transportation can multi-task and read on the way to work, but that's not always an option.

Decades ago, the leisure activities list was shorter. Even with fewer hours to spend, people probably still read more books. I'm hoping technology, in the form of ebooks and eReaders, will actually help reading instead of hurting it. eReaders are convenient, and once they are cheaper, they can make reading novels more affordable. If Kindles, Nooks, Alexes, Cool-ers, Pixel Qis, and QUEs can give people more chances to read, they might just make every month into NaNoReMo.





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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
bogwitch64
Nov. 5th, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
I've never felt the pull for NaNoWriMo. I write every weekday. Finding time or determination for it has never been a problem. And though I don't need a NaNoReMo either, I'd get behind it 100,000,000%!!! I think you're on to something, and I'm thinking I might start a campgaign in this town. I have a friend who does a lot of volunteer stuff with the local library. Maybe I can get her in on this and we can do a NaNoReMo in town, maybe next summer.

See what you've done!?
karen_w_newton
Nov. 5th, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC)
Can I take credit and not have to do any of the work? -)
bogwitch64
Nov. 5th, 2009 06:36 pm (UTC)
Hahaha! Certainly! I actually just emailed my library-type friend. I know we have reading incentives for the kids during the summer, but I'd love to expand some adult readership too!
jongibbs
Nov. 5th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
What a great idea :)
karen_w_newton
Nov. 6th, 2009 04:12 am (UTC)
Thanks! Looks like bogwitch64 is on the case.
mary_j_59
Nov. 6th, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
Interesting!
I'm here from Jongibbs's journal, btw. And one of the things that struck me is that reading is one of the few forms of "storytelling" out there that isn't a social activity. Well - it used to be! The standard form of reading, for quite awhile, was reading aloud, and as late as the late nineteenth century, people used to read to each other. Learning to read well, with expression and understanding, was a valuable skill. We don't do that any more. I think my family was unusual in that my parents read to us children even when we were well able to read to ourselves. Now, as a librarian, I and my colleagues push reading aloud. But it simply isn't done as much as it used to be, is it?
karen_w_newton
Nov. 6th, 2009 05:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Interesting!
I have friends (a married couple in their 60's) who read aloud to each other. And I listen to audiobooks sometimes. My kids also loved it when I read to them.

I actually like the solitary nature of reading, though, because I think reading a novel is as close as we can come to a Vulcan mind meld. It's just me and the author (or me and the reader, if someone is reading my work), with the story connecting us.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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