Confessions of a Drugstore Paperback Writer

Two years ago I took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), an event where participants are supposed to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days in November. Word count is everything and since I was lucky enough to be doing this along with a couple of friends, I cranked out over 51,000 words in just 15 days (I tend to be overly competitive and even though they said it wasn’t a competition, I didn’t believe them).

Recently, I broke out those pages and started to rework them. Like many first drafts there was a lot there that was utter crap, but I was pleased to find there was also a lot to work with. However, something struck me the other day: I am writing a drugstore paperback. You know those books, the ones just down the aisle from the greeting cards and office supply products. The ones lumped together with no rhyme or reason like Clearance racks at Ross. My novel is destined to sit next to dusty Harlequin Romances complete with shirtless Fabio’s, and after thinking about it, I’m okay with that.

I think I set the bar way too high when I began writing. In my dreams I fancied myself the female Chuck Palahniuk or a modern-day Jane Austen (I am often so conflicted), but reality is quickly becoming apparent and I find that I am neither. At first I was mortified. What? You mean my novel will not be considered high-end literature? Not even avant garde? You mean it isn’t even in the running? And then I got to thinking: I may not be destined for the annals of great literature. Teachers may never use my books to educate the young minds of the future. Hell, this may never even sit in the glossy folds of a book cover, but at least I am writing. At least I am sitting down and pounding out words; I’m creating.

I’m not sure anyone sits down and consciously writes the next bestseller; they just write. If something I write happens to end up being highly regarded someday, that is great. However I’m just as happy if this book never sees the glaring fluorescents of CVS chains across the country. I’m writing and that is all that matters to me.

About M. Jaynes

A female educator with anger-management issues, M. Jaynes is causing change in the world by inspiring (some may say forcing) young minds to think for themselves and question everything.


  1. You underestimate yourself. And you’re right, there is nothing wrong with a shirtless Fabio.

  2. Yes, it is about writing. Sometimes other things come with the writing, but it is the writing.

  3. I.B. Singer once wrote, “At its best, art can be nothing more than a means of forgetting the human disaster for a while.” If a drugstore novel takes people out of their own circumstances for a while, then it succeeds as art.