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!

NaNoWriMo Takes Off Without Me!

Okay, my beloved NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) started on November 1st. What?!! Already! I wasn’t ready. I was tired that first night. And last night was Election Night and I had book club. Does it sound like I’m making excuses? Well excuse me. What? Do I sound defensive?

Here’s the truth: I really don’t want to start another novel this November until I finish the one I wrote one last year for NaNoWriMo. (And I did win NaNoWriMo last year!) But it might not win a Booker Prize (and I might have to be English any way to win that prize).

When I looked at the novel again, I thought, it’s not bad. It’s kinda good. When one of my twins woke up early yesterday morning, she found me with my novel, tentatively called “The Missing Twin,” spilled out in front of me on the kitchen table. Charlie asked if she could read it.

So I read Charlie a few pages from the middle of the book.

“It’s good,” she said. “Although you should add more details.”  My kid is brilliant. She’s so right. I have to add more details!

Here’s a little bit of the novel from around page 51: (Don’t judge yet, it’s only a second draft. And I need to add more details.)

We were approaching the stop light at the corner of West End and 72nd. A white van slowed and pulled up beside to our cab. The driver wore dark sunglasses. He lifted a piece of paper.

The sign read, “I’ve got her.”

“Jordy!” I meant to yell. But it came out like a whisper. I slunk down.

“What?”  He was still looking at the picket line. “I think I see Angela, our cleaning lady, there.”

I slunk even lower and pointed at the white van.

Jordan looked. He laughed. “That’s weird.”

“Weird? That’s scary. What if he means Elise?” I asked.

I glanced back at the van. The man’s sign read, “I’m wearing panty hose.” The traffic started and the van rode ahead of us.

“Oh my God, a minute ago, he had another sign. It said, ‘I’ve got her.’ I’m worried about Elise,” I could hardly speak.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jordan said.

“I did,” I said. Jordan pulled a pad from his pocket and wrote the license number AGS 254. The van turned on 74th Street. We turned on 77th Street. I sat up in the cab. I told myself to breathe. Inhale. Exhale.