Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Virtues of Severus Snape

Admittedly these can be hard to find. But I think that's what makes Snape such a great character.

I feel the same way about Umbridge, actually. She's so hate-able. Probably THE most hate-able character I've ever come across. I don't even hate Voldy as much as her. So well written.

Characters like that are harder to create than a person might think. Which brings me back to Snape. I'd venture to say that Snape is probably the most complicated person in the entire Harry Potter series.

I don't think it can be argued that Snape was not a supremely well-crafted character.

But what I'm really trying to do is defend him. I've always contended that Snape is one of the most tragically misunderstood characters ever written. It wasn't until recently that I had someone seriously disagree with me, and I realized that I had never vocalized my argument. This is my attempt to do so.

I know that everyone sees different virtues as more or less important than others. It will help you understand my point of view to know that I highly value knowing the reasons behind actions.

This isn't the same as accepting excuses. People are masters of their own choices. Weakness and giving in isn't a disease that one is a victim of. It is a choice that a person makes. But when one understands the full picture, or motivation, one can make a more accurate judgement.

To me, understanding breeds sympathy and respect.

Thesis: The tragedy, heartache, and bitterness in Snape's past explain his flaws. (Not to excuse but to understand). And the choices that he made to devote his life to the downfall of Voldemort truly were incredibly brave, noble, and super difficult to be loyal to.

Difficulty #1: Snape is not likable. At all.

I think that a lot of people have trouble understanding that all people are flawed. Some people are just flawed in more openly hateful ways than others.

Snape's flaws mostly revolve around a skewed sense of fair play. He was housed in Slytherin, after all. Ends justify the means, and all that. And sometimes he crosses the line. Like what he said about Hermione's teeth when Draco enlarged them. That was just wrong. Seriously rude.

But evil? No.

Let's remember, shall we? He was:
  • Raised in a totally dysfunctional, and possibly abusive, family.
  • Friendless until he found Lily, who later spurned him.
  • Belittled, picked on, teased, and nearly killed by a group of teenaged boys who were really out of line.
  • Surrounded entirely by people who very effectively justified dark magic.
  • Just a boy when he joined the death eaters.
  • A victim not just of unrequited love, but of love toward a girl who ended up marrying the guy that used to belittle and tease him for no reason. Ouch.
  • Forced by circumstance to allow people to think that he still worked for Voldemort, even though he wasn't. He HAD to let people think the worst of him at all times, even when it was wrong.
Summary: Dude had a hard knock life.

Like I said before, it doesn't excuse away everything. But it explains it. I mean, you try being in charge of keeping alive the son of the guy who married your one true love and belittled you beyond endurance. See how patient you stay.

Expecting him to not react badly on occasion is expecting an awful lot of him. Perfection is out of reach for ALL of us. And he is no exception.

Difficulty #2 Snape used to be a Death Eater.

Yeah. So?

Seriously, forgiveness people. I COMPLETELY understand having trouble with trusting someone once they've done something as stupid as joining Voldemort's minions. But he proved himself. Once he came back to the right side, he never left. Ever. Get over it.

Difficulty #3 He was wishy washy. Joining one side, then the other. What the crap?

No. No he wasn't. It may have taken him a good 20 years or whatever for him to figure out his place, but once he did, he stayed there. He died there.

Difficulty #4 Pining after a long lost love is not sufficient reason for turning back to the good side.

Well, would you rather he had just stayed in Voldy's circle?

As someone I know once stated, it doesn't matter why you came. It only matters why you stay.

What does that mean? It means that maybe you did something good because your mom and dad promised you a car. Deuschy, I know. But it got you there, didn't it? Right place, but wrong motives are better than wrong place and wrong motives.

But once you start to be there for more than just that car, you have grown as a person. And if you stay there doing good for the right reasons, it doesn't matter that it originally took the promise of the car to get you there, because you're now in the right place for the right reasons.

Difficulty #5: Snape acts like everyone is stupid

Well, compared to him, they sort of are. He's extremely intelligent. I mean, examine how he can take the merest glance at Harry's potion and immediately know exactly which direction Harry messed up on.

So what you have to understand here is that it is very, very difficult for a really smart person to comprehend how others just don't see what they do. Especially in the sciences (and I think potions counts as a science.)

The most prime example of this is nearly any physics professor at a university. You have to be top of the line clever to get a doctorate in physics and not die from over exertion. But these doctors of physics are almost all the worst teachers you've ever experienced. They don't mean to, but they really have a way of making a normal person feel like a complete dunce.

Combine this with the stretch on his patience that Snape already has to endure from having Harry around. Harry represents all that went wrong in Snape's life in so many ways. With him present, you end up with an easy target for a snapped patience.

The other students all hate him too, I know. But I really believe that he's slightly (if only just barely so) less brutal in his non-Harry classes. I also believe that, behind the grim facade, Snape really is harsh because he believes it to be the best way to drill the important stuff into their heads, which is exactly the same reason McGonagall is tough. He wants them to learn.

Alright. Now we come to the positives.

Virtue #1: An evil person can not love like Snape loved Lily

"My word, Severus, to never reveal the best of you?" It really was. This is the thing about Snape that I feel is the most tragic. As Voldemort so clearly illustrated, discounting human emotion is not only evil, but spectacularly ignorant.

The tragedy of it all is that the love was unrequited. Snape made some less than brilliant choices as a teenager. Those choices eventually led to his losing the one person in the world that he had ever actually cared about. But even though she left him. Even though she married his bitterest enemy. Even though he would never have what he most deeply desired, he still spent the entire rest of his life devoted to her.

What would Snape have seen in the mirror of Erised? Not power. Not fame. Not even Harry's head on a plate. He would have seen Lily.

Why was Snape's last request a plea for Harry to look him in the eye? Because Harry had Lily's eyes. "Precisely her eyes. You remember the shape and color of Lily Evan's eyes, I am sure." While in the throws of a painful death by snake venom, a death that was utterly unfair and needn't have happened had Voldemort not been so stupid, Snape's very last thought was not of bitterness, or regret, or even of himself at all. It was of Lily.

Virtue #2: Bravery

"Sometimes I think we sort too soon." Yes indeed. People as children are not always the same as they are as adults. Some get worse. Others get better.

It would be remarkably scary to be in the constant presence of the world's most accomplished legilimens as a double agent. To be at constant risk of being discovered. To gain nothing at all from the position other than to have done the right thing, and been loyal to the one you love. To be forced to watch countless innocent people be tortured and killed and been able to do nothing.

To have had to play such a convincing role that only one other person in the entire world knew exactly where his true loyalties were. To have been the main weapon against the regime of the most powerful dark wizard ever known. To be forced to constantly "serve" the man who killed the girl he loved.

Lesser men couldn't have done it. Lesser men would have crumbled under the pressure. Lesser men would have failed.

Virtue #3: Nobility

It is true that Snape was frequently unfair. Bitter. Often rude. But these resulted from an excess of repressed stress.

He had to let people think him a complete coward, and not say a thing in his own defense. He had to allow people to think him a murderer, a death eater, an evil minion of the most powerful wicked tyrant in the world. He had to be on his guard at all times and never open up to anyone.

He had to let people be rude about him. To know the worst bits of his life, and never the best. To utterly hate him. And all without defense. Without a saying a word.

Most people's pride is far too strong. Harry, for example, couldn't have done it. Harry was brave and noble in other ways, but he could never have let people think such things about him without trying to fight back. Snape didn't fight back, as miserable as it was.

Letting something that crappy happen to you without resistance, all for the greater benefit of humanity, is seriously awesome. Gutsy. Noble.

And so, occasional outbursts of snide remarks, or twinges of rudeness are minuscule in comparison to what he did not spill. Insignificant when compared to the vast amount of good he accomplished in his secret mission. Entirely forgivable when seen with in the wider view.

Virtue #4: Loyalty

No matter what his reasons were, he still did the right thing.

Whatever your opinion on his motives, a person simply has no argument for saying that he didn't do the right thing. He helped bring about the downfall of Voldemort. He put himself in danger to protect others.

Sometimes he was wrong about things. He really did think that Sirius was guilty. That Sirius had enabled the killing of Lily. So even though we get annoyed with him for interrupting the punishment of Peter Pettigrew, he didn't know. He was just trying to do the right thing. To capture an escaped convict, who also happened to be a former enemy. To protect three rash and rule-defying students from harm.

He may not have understood that Harry was after horcruxes, but he still did what he was supposed to anyway. He didn't necessarily posses the grace and adeptness of McGonagall, but he was tough on his students to get them to learn. He HATED Lupin, and yet he still made complicated potions for him every month. He wasn't as open about his disdain (he couldn't have been, really) for Umbridge, but he never helped her like Filch did. He stayed well back, just like the other teachers, including having given her fake veritaserum.

So a person can not honestly say that the good didn't prevail in the end. They can not say that he didn't stick it out. They can not say that he ever went back on his word.

So that's Professor Severus Snape. Misunderstood. Tragic. Lonely. But Brave and Loyal through it all.

**Note: I just wanted to address one concern mentioned by a coworker during a discussion on this very topic. According to her, Snape was guilty of forgoing his responsibility to the students of Slytherin house. He should have guided them more. Tried harder to keep them from becoming Deatheaters.

And on this same line, this person also said that she had much more sympathy for Pettigrew than for Snape. She saw Wormtail as a victim, not a traitor. He was a weak person who was overcome by Voldemort's incredible charm and charisma. Where as Snape knew what he was doing and boldly chose his own path.

Here is my response.

It is true that one of Voldy's strongest talents was that of charming anyone. And it is also true that Peter was a weak, wussy, rat of a man. It is further true that Snape chose his own path.

But this sounds to me like she is putting an awfully poor emphasis on agency. On a person's ability to make choices. When personal agency comes into play, Snape's will is much more noble than Wormtail's lack thereof.

As far as teaching the Slytherins, there is no proof whatsoever that he didn't try to keep them from going bad. The fact that so many of them did is a reflection on the personal power of choice, and not on the teaching of their head of house. Even the best parents that have ever lived sometimes end up with rebellious and delinquent children. The power of choice is extremely great, and extremely underrated.

And as for Wormtail... he was weak. But that's a failing on his part. He wasn't imperiused. He was under his own power. He made his own decision. It just so happened that his decision was self-serving and abhorrent. But he still chose. He betrayed Lily and James through a conscious action.

As I said before, weakness isn't an excuse. It isn't a disease that someone gets struck with, and is helplessly saddled with for the rest of their lives. Yeah it would have been hard for Wormtail to fight back. But he still could have done it if he'd have been noble enough. If he had gotten over himself and his own petty fears for long enough to do something right.

Strength of will is a lot more a choice than a state of being.

And that is why Snape was infinitely better. He could have been just as weak as Wormtail. He had all the pre-disposition to be so. In fact, I'd say he had more. He had an even crappier life than Peter ever did.

If (and I emphasize IF) it would have ever been excusable for someone to collapse under pressure, it would have been for Snape. He could have used his past and his failings to excuse him. But he didn't. Once he officially chose his path, he did not falter. As dangerous and terrifying as it was, he stuck it out. Something that Wormtail was far too cowardly about.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


There are two bright green dots of light on the power strip above my desk. In the dim light of my computer, and without my glasses, which I rarely wear while on my computer, this is what those dots of light look like:

Only slightly creepy...

Anyway, a funny thing happened this past week. Somehow, and I don't know why, I've had three different occasions where the topic of conversation turned to creepy experiences in the night while trying to fall asleep.

As it happens, I have a pretty good one that was super creepy at the time, but super funny now. Since I've been telling the story over and over again, I thought I'd just get on here and do the thing properly.

I've always been a bit of an odd child. Thinking about things that don't occur to normal kids, and yet being oblivious to those which are common. For example, I used to entertain myself by wrapping my blanket around me into a cone shape, and throwing my igneous rocks from the cone according to how they would really come out of a volcano. Basalt slid gently down the side. Scoria flew through the air. Granite filled in cracks below the ground. Etc. And yet fashion and pop culture has always eluded me.

On that note, allow me to describe to you the fears of this particular young child. Cross a very logical, reasoning, scientific brain with a spectacular imagination, and you've got me. Knowing, of course, that supernatural creatures don't really exist, my highest fears were for things that could.

But in the darkness of the largest bedroom in the house, full of odd shadows, and located in the middle of the forests of Virginia, where the only streetlight for miles around was at the foot of our very long driveway, imagination nearly always overrules reason.

And yet, within this irrational state of mind, reason still had its place. Of all the supernatural creatures, there were several that I never bothered with. Frankensteins were never scary. Neither were werewolves (although my sister has a very different opinion on that). Aliens weren't a big deal. Zombies are cool.

But vampires scared me to the point of real panic. One time I read the word vampire on a choose your own adventure book, and started to hyperventilate. I had a nightmare that night, and I hadn't even read the book. Just looked at it. No joke. And here's why: (Believe it or not, I actually thought about these things as a ten year old terrified in bed).

1) Vampires could fly. Even if you lived in a place inaccessible to any other creature, flying means that you still aren't safe.

2) Vampires are extraordinarily persuasive. You could potentially let a vampire in, sit in a chair, and say 'bite me here' and never even know what you were doing.

3) Vampires are like horrible mutations of humans. While werewolves are changed, they are like wolves, not men. Giant monsters are clearly recognized for what they are. Vampires can slip in and out of humanity without being noticed by any but the most practiced eye.

4) Vampires don't just kill you. They turn you into one of them. Which, for some reason, is much scarier. True that werewolves do as well (if they don't rip you apart first) but everything else makes vampires worse, for me.

5) Vampires have opposable thumbs. If you barricade yourself properly, zombies, werewolves, and other beasts can only scratch and pound at the door, hoping it will give way, giving you time to destroy them from a vantage point. A vampire can turn a doorknob, lift a second floor window, or use a key in a lock. Anywhere that you can get, they can get too.

6) Vampires have super-human cleverness. With most other supernatural monsters, the intelligence level drops. Werewolves become beastlier. Zombies are literally unthinking. Goblins and such are always just a little stupider. Not vampires. They can out think you if you're not careful. They keep the brains, but lose the humanity and compassion. They're merciless.

7) They are REALLY hard to kill.

*UPDATE* I'm adding a number 8 here, on the suggestion of a friend. 8) Shapeshfting. Vampires can turn into all sorts of stuff. Often a flock of bats, but they can do other mammals as well.

Now that you know all of this about me, you'll be able to understand my story even better. I find vampires cool now, because of all those same reasons. They are the ultimate creepy supernatural villain. But even though I find them cool instead of panic inducing, I still have to sleep with my light on if I think about it too much.

Onward to Dracula.

As you may be aware, a lot of books that are considered "classics" are, well, weird. No one actually knows why they are classics, except for the fact that they're old. Despite this knowledge, there were several that I was interested in checking out, just for curiosity. Bram Stoker's Dracula was one of these.

It is 444 pages, and I don't know if I expected to make it all the way through. I didn't with Frankenstein. It just wasn't interesting enough. But the adventure gets intense literally by page 6. Picture this:

Johnathan Harker, a young up and coming attorney, gets called away on business to Transylvania. There a count, by the name of Count Dracula, wishes to consult him on the purchase of a property in England.

He is to meet the count's carriage in the middle of the night, in the middle of the spooky Transylvanian forest, on all hallows eve. He gets chased by a pack of wolves through the mist, his driver stops to check out some strange ghostly flames, and he almost gets eaten before he's even gotten to the castle. Then they approach this =>

Creepy, huge, crumbling castle, in the middle of the night, near a huge precipice. And this is all in the first few pages.

Needless to say, I was completely hooked. I was really busy with some things at first, so I read 20 pages, had to stop, and didn't get back to it for a few days. But it was the most intense first 20 pages ever. When I did get the chance to pick it back up, it was in the evening, and I read about 200 pages straight.

Every time I tried to close it, knowing that I needed to go to sleep, my hands would not respond to me. And suddenly I was in the midst of another chapter. Finally, at somewhere between 3 and 4 in the morning, I forced myself to put the bookmark in place and turn out the lights. That was tricky enough, turning out the lights and walking all the way to my bed. At 4 am.

The very next night, I settled in to read again. I didn't plan on finishing it that night, but that's what happened. I physically could not put it down. So here I am, desperately reading on into the wee hours of the morning, unable to stop, when I finally make it. Page 444. The story is over. And once again it's about 3:30 am.

And at 3:30 am I suddenly realize that I've just read 400 pages about the king of vampires in two nights, and now I have to go turn off my light, get in my bed, fall asleep, and not freak out in the dark. It didn't really work.

Every shadow was dracula coming to get me. There was a particularly freaky one in the corner of my closet, just past the not-quite-closed-all-the-way sliding door, that kept drawing my eye. For some reason, there were also goblins under my bed, reaching out to grab me with their long, bony hands. I was on the verge of turning the light back on and putting my headphones in.

Suddenly my room lit up.

I'm not even kidding. It was this eerie pale blueish light that threw everything into even creepier shadows. It was accompanied by this vague whirring sound.

If I was the screaming type, which luckily I'm not, I totally would have screamed my lungs out.

And then I realized what it was: My computer.

It had decided to turn itself on just as I was falling asleep. After having been off for hours and hours. I didn't notice it at first because there were walls on my desk that blocked it from the view of my bed. All I saw was the light.

From then on, I kept my computer closed at night.

Obviously I was in a different apartment when this happened, so the effect was much different. And obviously cameras can't see what human eyes see, even if they're really good. The light is bluer, the shadows are deeper, and I didn't have my glasses on. But this picture is the closest I could manage.

And that is the story of how Dracula nearly gave me a panic attack.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I was bored. I drew a picture of a dragon in paint.

This is that picture:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Captain Planet!

I am about to say something highly profound.

Nitwit, blubber, oddment, tweak.

Thank you.

On a somewhat less enthralling note, I was just thinking about elements. Mostly about how they pertain to magical ability.

For almost all of my life, I've considered fire to be the only really interesting element of the four classical choices. Those being Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Fire is amazing. It's fantastic. It's awesome. I don't really have the words to describe how cool it is to me. I don't really know why, either. It just seems so much more dynamic and fantastical, I guess.
Earth, Air, and Water were just so... drab. Commonplace, if you will. We breathe air, step on earth, and drink water every single day. Not that fire is something out of the ordinary. It's just cooler than ordinary. I even take pictures of fire, because it's so awesome. Like this one. ^

I used to be afraid that if I was suddenly made an elemental mage, that my power would end up being something lame, like earth. Boring. What would I possibly want with magic relating to earth? You know how that goes, sometimes. Like if you're at an activity of some sort, and they divide you all up into groups, just arbitrarily. And you end up being in the group that goes to some lame place that you don't really care about.
Well, as I've gotten older, I've realized two things. One, that real life is sometimes better than fantasy in those types of things. The sort of magic you would end up having, or the skills you would end up using, would be a reflection of you and your personality. Thus the element that you got would end up being something you could relate to.

I also realized that the other elements are all awesome in their own right. I've gained a much deeper appreciation for them than I once had. I mean, I have a thing for tornadoes. Don't know why, but they are freakin awesome. And I realized that tornadoes are all about the power of air. Whenever I'm out in stormy weather, and the wind starts to whip around me, I just feel this pressing need to stand on a precipice and bask in the glory of the wind.

I want to just draw all the power into me and release it into funnels of windy awesomeness to the detriment of my enemies. Once upon a time I used to find air the most boring, until I realized that it so wasn't. It only looks boring in art, because people don't understand epicness very well.

Water is sort of similar. I never really cared. And admitedly, I still don't care AS much. But check out a tidal wave, or a rain storm. Or a huge waterfall. Dag. It's pretty sweet. Earth, too, is still lowest on my list. But if I could summon an earthquake to destroy my enemy's palace, I'd definitely be okay with that. No problems to be had. (But especially if we get some lava involved... O:)

Anyway, so I've realized that there is merit in nearly anything as long as you look at it with the right perspective. It's something that politicians have been good at for years. Take all the good parts of one and compare it to the worst parts of the other, just to skew the perception. Gotta admit, it's clever, even if it's wrong. But done to the right things, perception can make all the difference.

Now, I just have to put a good word in for the minor elements. The ones that are sometimes included, and sometimes not, because they're more like sub-elements. You know, things like flora and fauna within the realm of earth. Or ice within the category of water. Know that girl in Sky High, who can send all sorts of vines and stuff at her enemies? That would be a wicked awesome power. Way cool. But the reason I mention this is because I really, really, really like ice. It's so pretty, and awesome. And I like it for all the same reasons I like fire, which are the ones I can't really describe.

Given the choice, ice would be my second element, and air would take third place. (Though it would be a close thing, I think). But ice doesn't normally count as separate from water, though it really is. Funny how I like fire and ice the best. *shrug* I didn't choose that way because I thought it was cool to be weird or whatever. I just happened to like those two the most, and they just happen to be opposites.
Anyway, the point was that all of them can be super cool, if taken in the right attitude. And that can be a moral of the story for life as well, if you were really hoping to get something out of this. Although I don't know why you would have been, because I gave up on making useful posts pretty much on day one.

So today I was taking a sorting hat quiz, and this particular one associated each house with a different element. Gryffindor was fire, obviously. Slytherin was water. Ravenclaw was Air. And Hufflepuff was earth. Funnily enough, the elements that went with the houses are in the same order of liking the most to the least as my preference for houses themselves, except that I don't like gryffindor as much as I like fire. But I can see how ravenclaw wouldn't be very fiery.

A long Time ago, I would have been massively disappointed to have been housed with an element like air. It would have made me upset and question my self worth. But today when I saw it, I was very happy to have gotten air. because air is awesome. Like tornadoes. All about perspective. Um, I think that's all. :)

Ps. That's so weird that some of my colored font worked, but most of it didn't. And only the fire colors too. The air, earth, and water ones failed as usual. Blog is really not letting me change colors. Except for those two paragraphs today. Highly odd.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The deeper meaning of Newton's law

I discovered something interesting the other day. I meant to write about it earlier, but I just never got around to it. The interesting thing is this:

You can't progress, move forward, or grow without bringing with it the ability to digress or fall.

I wish I could say it in cooler words than that. Alas, my skills lay not in that area. But I think, or rather hope, that you get the idea.

Newton was way more correct than he realized when he came up with his 3rd law. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That isn't just a physics law. It's an integral part in the non-tangible universe as well.

It's interesting. People are always writing, reading, talking, or singing about a world with all good, and no bad, and some of them even explain how God is a terrible God for letting bad things happen in the world. While I don't have anything against the songs and books and whatever, I think most of the people who write them are missing the point.

When you climb a cliff, you leave a gaping space behind you which you could conceivably fall through. When you become a better person by working on different traits or habits, you leave behind you an old way of being.

I'm not saying it's pointless to grow. Rather the contrary. But I am saying it's possible to fall. You probably won't fall off the cliff if your equipment is right. 99% chance you'll be fine. But you can fall. If you grow as a person, you won't want to go back to your old ways, and there's nothing saying that you have to. But you have the ability to. That's the point.

Falling, digressing, messing up, making mistakes... that's all an irrevocable part of a non-stagnant universe. We either have nothing or we have both good and bad. We can't even have good without bad. We just can't have happy without sad.

Good isn't good without bad.

Everything in life is that way. Equal and opposite reaction.

Take the internet. Think of all the amazing good it can do. Research. Knowledge. Keeping in touch with people. The list goes on. But with it comes the unfortunate but inseparable ability to do bad.

Or music. Music is a POWERFUL thing. It can be incredible. But that doesn't come without the natural consequence of being able to have awful music. And by awful I don't just mean poorly written. We're talking actually bad music.

EVERYTHING is that way. It's the law of the universe.

So, it has nothing to do with God wanting bad things. It has nothing to do with Him not caring. It has nothing to do with Him being a bad God or not existing at all. (In fact, the balance between good and bad that exists is really a sign of God's existence.)

What it does have to do with is the fact that there are laws that exist. Without those laws, things just can't exist. It all becomes unstable, breaks down, and disappears. God uses those laws to make things work. He doesn't go around breaking laws because His creations wouldn't function if He did.

I'm sorry I'm so bad at explaining things. I wish I could do better. I wish I had the skills of fluid speaking and explanation, but I don't. I hope you got the idea of what I was saying.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Yes, the title actually has something to do with the post. Be amazed.

Anyway, I have officially signed up for Nanowrimo. Which, in real words, is national novel writing month. It's not like there's really anything super official about it. But it's fun to pretend that it's a serious, high stakes competition.

There are pretty much only 2 rules. One, write at least 50,000 words from November 1 to nov. 30, and two, don't just copy and paste the same word 50,000 times.

With no prizes, no publishing deals promised, and really no one actually reading what you wrote, what's the point? I asked myself the same question. In fact, a lot of people did, because there's an FAQ page about it. And I really liked the answer on it.


If I'm just writing 50,000 words of crap, why bother? Why not just write a real novel later, when I have more time?

There are three reasons.

1) If you don't do it now, you probably never will. Novel writing is mostly a "one day" event. As in "One day, I'd like to write a novel." Here's the truth: 99% of us, if left to our own devices, would never make the time to write a novel. It's just so far outside our normal lives that it constantly slips down to the bottom of our to-do lists. The structure of NaNoWriMo forces you to put away all those self-defeating worries and START. Once you have the first five chapters under your belt, the rest will come easily. Or painfully. But it will come. And you'll have friends to help you see it through to 50k.

2) Aiming low is the best way to succeed. With entry-level novel writing, shooting for the moon is the surest way to get nowhere. With high expectations, everything you write will sound cheesy and awkward. Once you start evaluating your story in terms of word count, you take that pressure off yourself. And you'll start surprising yourself with a great bit of dialogue here and a ingenious plot twist there. Characters will start doing things you never expected, taking the story places you'd never imagined. There will be much execrable prose, yes. But amidst the crap, there will be beauty. A lot of it.

3) Art for art's sake does wonderful things to you. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It makes you want to take naps and go places wearing funny pants. Doing something just for the hell of it is a wonderful antidote to all the chores and "must-dos" of daily life. Writing a novel in a month is both exhilarating and stupid, and we would all do well to invite a little more spontaneous stupidity into our lives."

I especially like bullet number 3.

I also liked some of the tips in the email they sent out once I signed up.

"Before you head off to begin training those typing fingers, we wanted to offer a few bits of advice. You'll find many great tips in the forums, and we'll be sending pep talks directly to your inbox during November. But for now, here's a quick overview of the three-and-a-half things we wish we had known for our first NaNoWriMo.

1) It's okay to not know what you're doing. Really. You've read a lot of novels, so you're completely up to the challenge of writing one. If you feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time, do so. But it's also fine to just wing it. Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you're not sure what that story might be right now.

2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it's hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn't. Every book you've ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.

3) Tell everyone you know that you're writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who've had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.

3.5) There will be times you'll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who wins NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out. See it through. Week Two can be hard. Week Three is much better. Week Four will make you want to yodel.

And we're talking the good kind of yodeling here."

I'm following advice number three right now. Hence this post. And also, I really liked number one. It made me really think about it. So many people are super crazy serious about whatever it is that they want as their career.

Well, it's good to be determined, dedicated, and and all that. But I think a lot of people forget why exactly they went into a particular career anyway. Because it was something that they just enjoyed. They forget, and hence don't enjoy. Which is STUPID. Man, try to still have fun in life, even if you are working really hard.

So that's the other point of this post. To remind people to not waste life being miserable and bored with everything. Remember what you like about whatever it is you're doing.

That is all.

Update: I don't know why the font is black. At least it's readable, though.