Renaming #Nanowrimo: No Alibi!

Dear #Nanowrimo non profit,

 

I’m a German author of non fiction (so far. Ha. This will change in November), much inspired by your challenge to write a complete novel first draft in one month. I’ll partake this year and am blogging about it.

 

I understand Nanowrimo has become an institution and household name. I wouldn’t want to change the acronym. But it took me over a year to produce interest in Nanowrimo for one single reason: I was turned off by the „national“. I’m glad I read more about it and found out it’s in reality international with many local groups and forums. I’m much motivated to take on the challenge. But my feelings about the „national“ aren’t gone, rather shifted from a „meh“ to „doesn’t make sense for what Nanowrimo is“.

 

Three reasons why sticking to the traditional name is counterproductive:

 

  • The campaign, movement, focus, month… is international. I understand it started out as a national campaign. But it isn’t any more. I am not the only person who got a wrong impression. How many will not come back after their first turnoff.

Saying it’s „national“ excludes many more people than it includes.

 

  • In many countries and cultures, „national“ isn’t coded as entirely fine and positive but has heavy political connotations of an oppressive cultural and racial climate, history and militaristic endeavours. As the challenge and platform have become international, those international facts, feelings, experiences and social realities can’t be disregarded. Authors from these countries or/and cultures shouldn’t need to go against their convictions or experiences to be a part of your writers’ community.

 

  • The worldwide dominant literary narrative is U.S. American. Using „national“ as a synonym for „worldwide“, coming from a US-American perspective, isn’t going to augment global respect and acknowledgement for underserved voices, those who still have to struggle to be heard, for their literature to be considered valid, universal and important. They have to sort of surrender to be classified under a US-American context when they participate, more so when they -like me- want to share why they participate and it isn’t a ‚national‘ thing at all. There’s no reason for this.

 

  • (I’m not even starting about the Viking helmet connotations for us Black folks and PoC in Germany)

 

I therefore refer to Nanowrimo as „No Alibi! Novel Writing Month“ and invite everybody to do the same.

 

It’s just more respectful.

 

Wishing everybody a fruitful preparation and much fun and inspiration,

 

Best,

 

Noah Sow

 

 

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