I know I already did this rant, but I'm not quite finished. A few of the NaNoHaters have been begging for us to pay as much attention to reading and readers as we do to writing and writers*. And, um, we do. More, in fact. I've just spent the last eight years working in an organisation that does just that.
Here in Australia we have the MS Read-a-thon, the Reader's Cup and the Premier's Reading Challenge. There are Summer Reads and One City One Book programs all over the world. There's Edinburgh's Carry a Poem campaign. There's BookIt! and Reading is Fundamental and Reading For Life and Read Across America. There are interscholastic Reading Olympics. Jamaica has a National Reading Competition. Hawaii has a Celebrate Reading Day. 2012 is Australia's National Year of Reading. We have Book Week and so many readings, panels, launches, festivals and book clubs that even the keenest reader could not possibly participate in them all.
At the moment the Inky Awards are on - Australia's only teenage choice book prize. It's an award for readers - readers get to select their favourite books from Australia and overseas. But my favourite part of the Inkys? The part that makes me proudest for bringing to life? The Inkys Creative Reading Prize. Which not only celebrates readers, it gives them an active role in the creative process. Readers make a creative response to a book they love - in any format they choose, whether it be fan fiction, music, video or cake**.
I'm sure they don't mean it, but the journalists*** ragging on NaNoWriMo kind of sound like they're saying that only True Artists are allowed to be creative, to make things, and that the role of the plebs is just to consume their output. I also find the inability to separate the dirty business of making money and being "famous" from the sheer pleasure of creating something out of nothing, a little disturbing to say the least.
Reading a book or watching TV or seeing a play is like breathing in. Writing, painting, playing, sewing, baking - that's all breathing out. Human beings need to do both. Not just artists. Not just journalists. Everyone.
*And let's face it, the participants of NaNoWriMo are NOT the ones we should be trying to get to read more. They read plenty. That's why they write.
**There were TWO cake-related entries last year. Om nom nom.
***Also. I'm sure I don't need to point out the journalistic hubris of whinging in public - in print - about how other people's writing is a waste of time.