Today is the start of National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it is exactly what it sounds like: A group of writers, both professionals and amateurs, who come together to support one another in writing a novel in a month, and that month is this month—November. (I don’t know why November was chosen for this, what with the holidays coming up and Thanksgiving and Black Friday and all these other distractions, but whatever. So be it. November it is!)
Though I have never participated in NaNoWriMo, I have written novels under the pressure of deadlines. I will say this: They can be very motivating! And the most important rule about writing a novel is simply this: You Must Finish The Novel. So I fully support the endeavor!
For those of you embarking on your Novel Month, or even those simply slogging along through a manuscript that’s been plaguing your brains for longer, I will give you this one small piece of advice to help you avoid one of the pitfalls that trip up novel writers (Or maybe just me), and that is this: Be careful in whom you trust your notes. Specifically, do not trust Siri to take notes for you.
Now, this is definitely spoiled writer advice. I got an iPhone last year—my first smart phone!—and thought it was basically the coolest thing ever. It’s shiny! It plays games and movies! It takes decent pictures! And I can TALK TO IT AND IT TALKS BACK! How awesome, right?
Sometimes, while driving or walking or just being out in life, I have had an idea for one of my books. With no pen available (or at least safely/legally employable), I have turned to Siri to take a note for me. I hold down the home button and she chimes in, and I say, “Siri, take a note,” and then say whatever I want to remember.
Siri, however, makes a note that in no way resembles what I said.
For example, here’s a charming bit of Siri note-taking:
All doors from inside a store read out towards the exit to the building and all doors that means it any door going into the hallway holes in the hallway you beautiful it open from the hallway bathroom in the store you push out and also walking into that stockroom you push into the stockroom from the sales floor
In this instance, I was trying to figure out the ways in which emergency doors in the mall work—do you push in from the fire stairwell? Or pull out to get into the stockroom? I quickly realized that this was a distraction and not actual writing, and that I was getting all hung up on this issue (resolved by simply not saying which way a character is moving the relevant door in the particular scene, which is one of those who-cares details anyway) to avoid writing the darned scene. But still, Siri was less than helpful in taking down my thoughts. “You beautiful it open,” Siri? For reals?
Time and again, Siri has converted my brilliant ideas (okay, maybe not all brilliant) into gobbledy-gook. Another tasty sample of her handiwork:
I’m daylight in the senator then order security to bus that the closet and find the Rhine and shave their right to left the lights off.
I honestly have no idea what I was trying to say here. Siri took my idea and ran with it. Apparently, all the way to Germany.
So, take note (but not on Siri), NaNoWriMo folks. If you live by Siri, your novel might die by Siri.
And since it is mere days until the Election (Have you heard of this? There’s an election happening! I know, right. I totally almost missed it. It’s not like I receive FOUR HUNDRED EMAILS AND FACEBOOK POSTS A DAY ABOUT IT….*grrrr*), I offer this inspirational video. Warning: it contains very bad language not appropriate for classrooms or playgrounds (a/k/a the f-word).
What I’m reading: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (So far, living up to the praise!)
What I’m watching: Cloud Atlas (I don’t care what the critics say, this movie was an awesome movie-going experience.)
What I’m listening to: “Fences,” Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix