So we are officially halfway through June, and people – myself included, though with reservations – are gearing up for the July run of Camp NaNoWriMo.
I’ve written before about my personal issues with the Camp components of NaNoWriMo, which have nothing to do with the events themselves (God bless the people who organize them and the writers who find real success in them!), but more to do with my personal inclinations and proclivities. I tend to need more external motivation and more stringent rules, which Camp NaNo, in it’s admirable effort to be flexible (which I respect) lacks.
But something else that makes Camp a little more difficult for me is something I noticed especially starkly last year, when I put myself up for cabin assignment in April and got assigned to a random cabin where every other person, beside me, was writing sci-fi/fantasy.
Literally. In a cabin of fifteen randomly assigned people, I was the only one not writing something on the sf/f spectrum.
I’d noticed before, on the forums, that NaNo seemed to skew especially heavily towards sf/f, or at least appeared to; there were always a proliferation of posts about elves and dwarves, or dystopian aliens worlds, and very little reality-based, real-world fiction.
And that’s not a bad thing – writers are free to write what they want to, and I’m glad so many writers have found a place where they are thriving and finding success and camaraderie. And it’s not that I dislike sf/f, either; my husband reads it almost exclusively, and I dip my toes in and out of it’s waters, as well.
But I don’t write it. And when I’m trying to find a writing community during NaNoWriMo, the genre that I tend to write in – literary fic (more character-centric than plot-centric) – may technically have a presence (i.e., there’s a forum devoted to it), but is functionally absent from the site. Which, again, is not something I can place any blame for – the opportunity is there, and either no one is writing it, or they are writing and not socializing. Either way, it’s no one’s fault, it just… is.
There are a lot of great tips to be learned about the writing business and industry from genre writers, and a lot of general writing advice that can be useful across genres, and there is a lot of good sf/f writing being produced, including, I’m sure, during NaNoWriMo.
But as someone who doesn’t write it, I do feel a little out of place. I don’t worldbuild in the same way they do. I don’t do the same kinds of research, or have the same plot structure. I don’t scaffold with the idea that what I’m writing will become a series. I respect the crazy amount of prep work and research that goes into writing a good sci-fi story, but I don’t find the same sense of unity or camaraderie I think I would feel were I also a genre writer.
Where are the lit fic writers during NaNo? Where are the people writing purely in a non-genre genre? I’d love to know.
Good luck to everyone participating in Camp this July, regardless of what you write. I appreciate that all genres have value, whether it’s one I write/read or not.