If it’s fun, it’s good

“We buy these difficult books because we feel that, while not very exciting, they are in some way good for us…It’s a sort of literature-as-bran-flake philosophy: If something is dry and unpalatable, it must be doing some good to our constitutions.” (No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty)

I have written about how I loved NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Such a creative, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, positive way to write a novel.

“With his startlingly mediocre prose style and complete inability to write credible dialogue, Chris has set a reassuringly low bar for budding novelists everywhere,” says Chris Baty about himself, the founder of NaNoWriMo. Awesome. http://www.nanowrimo.org/

I love that. So funny.

See, sometimes I feel — especially at work — that the most morose, the most academic, the most acerbic, that person wins. The one who puts others down? Yup, he or she  gets respected, if not promoted. But what about the nice guy/gal?

Hello! It’s harder to remain positive than to go negative.

It’s easier to be Debbie Downer than Ula Upbeat! Just because someone is negative, doesn’t mean they’re smart and right. And just because someone is positive, it doesn’t mean they’re dumb and wrong.

Ever since the leadership academy, I’m starting to see a shift in the culture of meetings and conversations at my workplace. People are affirming one another more. People are acknowledging that it’s okay to have fun at work. It’s okay to compliment one another’s work or unique style. It’s okay to be creative and, even, passionate.

At the library, I do have the impulse to choose the weighty, solemn and classic tome, but in fact, I should choose the fluffy, fun and juicy book. It’s more palatable. Just because a food tastes good, doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. Mother’s milk is very sweet.

And blueberries? Fun, yummy, good for you.

Just like “No Plot? No Problem!” Chris Baty’s funny, simple, profound how-to. Reading this book has got me psyched for next November when NaNoWriMo takes off again. Anyone want to join me? It’s more fun than eating bran flakes. And when the bar is set so low, everyone can cross!

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One thought on “If it’s fun, it’s good

  1. As much as I love NaNoWrimo, and give it full credit for getting me off my fiction-writing butt, there are things that Chris Baty says that I think are full of it. Like your opening quote. It’s good that he’s light hearted about writing, and sometimes funny, but… I haven’t read No Plot, No Problem, but I’ve seen a lot of quotes from it, and some of them do more than just get people to stop worrying about the quality of their first draft. They tend to give the impression that quality just isn’t important. And that particular quote seems to equate quality with dryness — the kind of thing you read only because it’s supposed to be good for you. But one person’s dry-as-unbuttered-toast book is another person’s intense pleasure. I can almost guarantee that Chris would label, let’s say, War and Peace, as the driest of the dry. I’ve read it three times over the years, and consider it anything but dry. Ditto for a lot of books that today’s generation of writers have probably never even heard of, much less read. There’s a lot of territory in between dry, however you define it, and fluff. Fluff may be fun, and everybody needs some fun, but it isn’t very nourishing. What Chris seems to be saying is that anything that’s nourishing is difficult to swallow. And because of that, the bar he sets is going to stay low, not just for beginning writers, but for some who are into their second and third books and should be learning their craft instead of staying at their original level of accomplishment.

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