Novel, I Believe in You

This email from Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, was so cute that I just had to share:

Dear Writer,

I ran into your 2009 NaNoWriMo novel yesterday, and it said that you two are currently “taking a break.” I offered my condolences and mentioned that I’d probably be seeing you today. It quickly scribbled out a note for me to give you. The note seemed kind of personal, so I didn’t read it. Here it is!

“Hi! Come back to me. I’ll be better this time, I promise!”

Okay, so I accidentally read it. Wowza! That book loves you! And this is really none of my business, but if it were my business, I would tell you that you’ve been smart to let things cool down this month. November was a wild, tumultuous time, filled with expectations and hopes—some met, others unfulfilled. Before any of us had a chance to work out exactly where things stood with our books, the clock ran out and we were swept back into the flow of our busy lives. Our books, meanwhile, have been working themselves into a funk over their plummeting standing on our “recently accessed documents” list.

No pressure, though! You’ve got a lot on your plate right now, and you can’t be expected to drop everything and rush back into the arms of some moony novel you just met last month.

I would, however, love to see you guys get back together in January.

Again, this is none of my business, and I’m really not one to talk. Every November, I happily abandon the long-suffering novel I’ve been rewriting for years to chase after a new book. Always with the secret hope that I’m going to write the Great Effortless Novel—that fairytale book where the stars finally align and everything comes out mostly right on the first go-round, and I don’t have to work so much to make things right.

After 11 NaNoWriMo’s, I have yet to meet that fairytale novel. I’ve met some great, potential-filled books that I’ve loved and learned a ton from. But “the One” still hasn’t shown up.

This is a good thing.

Because if our novels tumbled from our imaginations in tidy, ready-for-the-bookstores packages, we would be denied one of the greatest pleasures and challenges on the planet: Novel revision. Through rewriting, we get the opportunity to take the best parts of our books and build a truly awesome story around them. In doing so, we also get to improve our shortcomings as writers, and take November’s sparky fling and turn it into something fiery and enduring.

So here’s my proposal. What if we pick one of the promising stories we’ve started and set aside, and then spend 2010 finishing it up and making it great?

Yes? Yes! And in case you’d like a public place to renew your vows, I’ve started a thread in the NaNo forums:

Come by and let us know about the book you’ll be revising: How you met, what you love about it, and what’s currently not working. And, most importantly, let us know where the two of you will be by the time NaNoWriMo rolls around again in 2010. Second chapter? Second draft? Book tour?

Then please drop in periodically and tell us how it’s going! The rest of us will serve as cheerleaders and couples counselors as you navigate the next step with your manuscript. (If you need us to serve as divorce attorneys, we can’t talk about that in the springtime.)

Let’s give it a shot. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

And like your book said: It’ll be better this time. Much better.

Wishing you a restful holiday and an adventure-filled new decade,


Although I’m not doing so at the NaNo forums, I am ready to renew my vows. Yes, “Wings,” “Covenant With an Angel,” “Ever This Day,” or whatever the heck your name is, I believe in you! Someday, you will be the novel you were always meant to be.