NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 30 (11/30)

Yesterday was pretty not-great. The minute I got into work, I had a coworker calling me to talk through a conversation we’ve had over a dozen times before that always included going over the same points at least twice per conversation. We talked for an hour and it drained the life out of me. All of today, from the minute that call ended, to now has been a pale imitation of the day that could have been if I’d only not talked to him today. Or if he wasn’t such an obstinate, obstructionist jerkwad who refuses to apply himself to the new processes I made for our team, specifically keeping in mind the issues he has always complained about. He, more than anyone else, stands to benefit from this new process the team is adopting and he is likely going to be the reason it fails should it eventually fail. It will only work if everyone pulls together and he is doing his best to pull in every direction but the one the rest of us are pulling it. It’s incredibly frustrating and it feels very defeating to have him constantly need the same questions answers, the same points rehashed, the same talking point discussed ad nauseam.

I’m not kidding when I say it ruined my day. I talked to him before I even had breakfast or my morning caffeine. I still got stuff done yesterday, but I know I could have gotten so much more done if I’d just ignored his call or worked from home where he couldn’t reach me. I’d have gone to dinner with my friends and then come home to write instead of going two important errands before coming home to collapse on my bed until my roommates brought pizza home. Even if I did pause to talk with them or check out the movie they were watching, I would not have stayed to continue watching it until almost ten because it was almost impossible to make myself get off the couch. I wouldn’t be struggling with the same sense of creeping dread, exhaustion, and failure that I felt last night. I’d have a new one or none at all. It’s difficult to tell just what my day might have been without the call first thing in the morning, but I can’t imagine it could have been even nearly as bad as today was.

I mean, it wasn’t that bad. Not objectively, anyway. No one died, my physical health is unaffected, my financial stability is the same as ever, and so on. But my mental health is in tatters because it has been ragged all month and this repeated conversation has been preying on a lot of anxieties even before we had it again today. Today just pushed it from a frustration to a feeling of never being able to do enough to make my process work and having to watch it all fall apartment as one person does his best to rip it to shreds because he lacks the vision to see beyond today or the open-mindedness to listen when I explain. It is so frustrating to watch something I spent over a year working on fail because the person I made it for can’t pull his head out of his ass long enough to appreciate how change could be a good thing.

Stuff like that is some of the most soul-draining stuff that can happen to me. I enjoy making things and I do make a lot of things for my own benefit, but I also like to make things with the idea of helping other people. To have someone pretty much throw away something I made to help them, something I have worked on for a long time, something I have spent dozens of hours talking to them about, something I told them about that got them feeling like maybe things could be better, it makes me want to stop making things. I have used my most valuable resource, my time, to create something specifically for them and they not just threw it away or didn’t use it, they brought it back to me and said it was making everything worse for them when they haven’t even given it a chance to work yet. Normally, after something like this, I’d just go home, play video games, and put off any kind of creativity for as long as I could manage. Even as I wrote this post, as I spent what I could salvage of my evening yesterday, the little voice inside me has gone from asking what the point of this is to saying there is no point and all I’m doing is taking my time and throwing it away, one second at a time.

It’s absolutely crushing.

But I’m stronger than it, now. I may feel as flat as a piece of paper, but even a piece of paper can be used to create three-dimensional art if you know how to fold it right. Since I am the paper, it hurts a bit to fold myself into something, but it still feels better than lying around in a pool of self-pity. I don’t feel like writing, but I’ve been doing it anyway because I want to write. I want to be able to go to sleep around midnight tonight feeling proud of just how much I’ve accomplished this month as I think about the two goals I completed. I’m only a couple thousand words away from having written one hundred thousand words in a single month. I’ve written almost thirty thousand of those words since Sunday, since I dug deep, processed all my own bullshit, and figured out how to keep working through the pain of my Grandfather’s failing health, the stress of the holidays, and the determination of my own brain to get in my own way as much as possible. These have been some painful days, but I’m trading short-term comfort and rest for long-term accomplishment and confidence. Even as much as I’ve written, as habitual as writing has gotten, I still need to win big every so often or I’ll start to feel like I’m not actually doing anything worth the effort. There are a thousand lessons to learn in failure, but having a success every so often is a good sign.

I wish I’d gotten more done yesterday. I wish I had more time to wrap things up today so I wouldn’t be writing in a frenzy to beat the clock. I wish my grandfather didn’t have cancer and that I’d been able to sleep peacefully every night this month. I wish I had just one more day this month, so I could land my ridiculous goals in style instead of cramming in the last few thousand words as my last hours ticked away. I wish for a lot of things, honestly, but I’m going to deliver. I have all day to finish things up and I don’t care if I need to take the afternoon off so I can get everything finished with enough time to spare to do some editing and work on this weekend’s blog posts before the month is over. I’m close and nothing sort of divine intervention or the collapse of society is going to stop me from achieving my goals. I’m past the point of compromises, of sense, of being reasonable. I’m just going to get it all done and then celebrate by sleeping for twelve hours.

Today is the last day of National Novel Writing Month and YOU. CAN. DO. THIS. The final stretch. No matter what the results are, just end it strong. Even if you’re at five thousand words out of the fifty thousand word goal, just throw sense aside and write as much as you can. This isn’t about passing or failing, this is about trying to grow as a writer. It’s about trying to grow as a person. You don’t have to out-do anyone but yourself and I believe in your ability to do just than. One more day. You’ve got this. I believe in you. Don’t believe in yourself, believe in the me that believes in you. Grit those teeth. One last push is all it takes. Good luck!

 

Daily Prompt

As you wrap up your last day of writing, either laconically typing in your last few words or trying to cram in the last few thousand you need before midnight, take a moment to reflect on your accomplishment. You should be proud of what you’ve done, just like your protagonist should be proud of what they’ve achieved, of the solutions they’ve produced to whatever problems plagued them. Write a scene about what your protagonist is most proud of and spend a little time about what that says about them or what that says about how much they’ve grown.

 

Sharing Inspiration

Today, on the last day of National Novel Writing Month, as you take a break from finishing your word count or lean back in satisfaction after confirming your total, I want to talk about what inspires me the most. This is not something you should find inspiring, but it is hopefully something you should think about. What inspires me the most is myself. Without me, nothing gets written. Without my own hard work, I’d have failed this challenge and all my little bonus challenges weeks ago. Despite how busy I’ve been, despite how crazy my life has been, and despite the fact that I only have about six hours a day to work, I’ve make incredible progress on my goals. As of this posting, I haven’t finished them yet, but I’m so close there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll finish unless Godzilla attacks Wisconsin.

The only thing that has kept me going throughout this entire month has been my unyielding willpower and iron-clad desire to test my limits. I kicked my own ass to get this done, I pulled these words out of thin air/the grey matter inside my head/my ass/the realm of stories I like to imagine lives on the other side of the story door in my head, and I absolutely rocked it. I set myself a goal and I worked as hard as I could toward achieving it. That experience is more valuable to me than anything else in my life right now and I hope you can find a similar drive in yourself if you haven’t already. I mean, in terms of growth from one year to another, I wrote seventy-seven thousand words last year and I’ve passed that twenty-thousand already, and I’ve still got an entire day left to write and make the gap even wider. I inspire me to continuously grow and I hope that you inspire yourself. 

 

Helpful Tips

My last tip is to remember that, as long as you tried something this month, you succeeded. Even if it wasn’t necessarily more writing than you would normally do during a month, you’ve accomplished something. You put yourself out there and you tried something difficult. As long as you’re willing to keep trying, you’ve yet to failure past the point of learning something. As Jake the Dog (of Adventure Time Fame) once said, “Sucking at something is the first step towards being sort of good at something.” No matter how you feel about your failure, I want to congratulate you on taking your first step toward success. It was a difficult step, to be sure, but it was the first step. Even if you succeeded, this was the first step toward something else. There are so many things you can do with fifty thousand words of a story and you should take the time to explore all your options. You can still do most of those things with any amount of words, so even if you failed they’re worth thinking about.

Ultimately, failing or succeeding based on the National Novel Writing Month metric doesn’t matter. Sure, some writers have turned their fifty thousand words into award-winning books, but there are authors who literally had an idea, wrote it down, did a couple of edits, and then sent it off to one person who instantly decided that this book was going to be big and threw money at them until they wrote more of those books. Other people’s success isn’t a metric to use to measure your own efforts. Measure them against yourself. As long as you did better than last time, that’s success in my book. A step forward is always good, even if it’s a small step. Sometimes, especially if it’s a small step.

Saturday Morning Musing

It is difficult to reconcile the world I was raised to believe existed and the world that actually exists. Like a lot of people in my age category, I was raised to believe that I could do anything I wanted if I worked hard enough and that there was a benevolent being somewhere above us who loved us individually and only wanted what was best for us. A lot of it was reinforced as I grew up because I was constantly told how smart I was, how capable I was when I focused on something I really wanted, and how frequently things just worked out the way I wanted. My home life might have been difficult, I might have had some issues crop up in my family that I’m still dealing with to this day, but I pretty much just walked through my childhood and teen years without ever really being denied anything I tried to obtain. I had pretty low expectations and didn’t try for much, to be fair, but I still managed to get everything I wanted one way or another. It felt pretty believable that I was capable of anything and that there was some force watching out for me.

As I went to college and started to come to terms with what I’d endured growing up, how I felt about my family, and my own limitations, my once-strong faith was the first thing to go. I’d describe myself as agnostic now, but it’s a little more complicated than that. I really want to believe in some higher power, but I feel like higher powers get used to get out of fixing things more frequently than I’m willing to put up with. Religion is frequently used as the justification for a lot of bad things but that doesn’t make religion itself bad. It works really well for a lot of people and it appeals to me because of the frequent focus on forgiveness, love, and respect for others. I just want to focus on doing my best here and now, to help as many people as I can now, because it feels like helping and loving is more important than figuring out which faith is the right one. That always feels like a cop-out to me, but I don’t really know how to explain it any better. I just hope that whatever greater power there is out there, whatever got things going at the start of everything, either doesn’t care or understands that I was just trying to do my best by my fellow humans.

A few years after that, when I got my first permanent, post-college job, I eventually realized that not everything works out. I wasn’t even trying to believe that everything works out well, just that it eventually comes to an end and there is some kind of conclusion. Unfortunately, closure and completion aren’t always guaranteed. Sometimes things just stop and you’re left wondering if they’re over or if there’s maybe more down the line. I’ve had a couple of relationships end like that, a few moves away from jobs, and even a few friendships that abruptly ended, and I can definitely say that that’s almost never the case. Recently mending bridges with one friend is pretty much the only time that’s ever been true and it was for a friendship I thought had concluded. It was one small, simple, enormous step that showed me sometimes things “work themselves out” without really ending. But it’s one thing in a world full of times things are just over and it’s up to me to figure out what to do with the unsatisfying end.

I spent over a year denying that it was time to move on from my old job. I spent more than a few months trying to salvage a relationship that had ended mutually due to distance but blown up afterwards because of immaturity and poor communication. I spent fifteen months trying to work things out with a roommate when I’d already known it was never going to happen. I’m really bad at letting things die when they don’t have a clear-cut end or conclusion. I spend way more time and energy trying to make things work out to what feels like a real end because there’s still a part of me that believes I can do anything if I work hard enough. I know it isn’t true, I know there are real limitations to what people can accomplish based on the factors of their life, and I know that hard work is rarely enough to achieve success, but the idea of working hard is so ingrained in my soul that I usually just double-down and convince myself that all I need to do is work even harder. Then, surely, I will achieve the success I desire.

Nothing in life is guaranteed, though. Life is short and people leave yours all the time. Days are long and you could dash yourself to pieces against the wall you’re trying to break through. You could live a lifetime in two years, full of vows to change the way things had been before and to never make the same mistakes again, only to realize you’ve in a position not that different from where you started. Maybe progress is too slow to really see and you’ll wake up one day to realize everything is different. Maybe You just need a little more time or one last push to finally break through that wall. You never know. Maybe you’re one day, one conversation away from achieving your every dream. Only time will tell if you’ve pushed too hard or if you haven’t yet pushed hard enough.

I don’t think I can achieve anything and everything I put my mind to, not after failing as often and as severely as I have. I don’t think there’s some force out there trying to guide my life down the right path. I want to believe these things, still, but I feel like I’ve got something more important to focus on. I have one thing I want to do, one big goal to spend my life on. I may never be able to achieve it or find the success I want, but I’m willing to live my entire life in pursuit of it. I feel like having that pinpoint focus is a little more valuable to me in the long run than the potentially erroneous belief in my ability to succeed or to be granted the achievement when I follow the plan of some supreme being.

Saturday Morning Musing

Rejection is hard. Few people enjoy it. I spent all of last weekend resting because of it. I did my first submission of 2018 and got a form email rejecting my submissions, so I decided to spend my weekend reading, gaming, and resting.

Rejection is something I’m still not used to facing. It has become familiar, but I don’t know that it will ever become something I am used to. I’ve faced it numerous times, as a writer and in other parts of my life. I didn’t exactly spend the four years between my relationships not asking women out. I didn’t just quietly hate my old job and the way things worked at my old company. I’m an action-oriented person. I do things. I ask people out, take risks, and try to affect change when I think it needs to happen. I submit at least one creative piece a month, and used to apply to any conference I thought was relevant in college. I have seen a lot of rejection and I’ve gotten good at processing it.

I was actually planning to not submit anything this year. I’ve got a lot on my plate with daily blog update, trying to figure out how twitter works (I think I’ve gotten the first couple steps down, but tips are always welcome!), and trying to get back into the swing of working on my books. There isn’t much time in there for me after you factor in my job, self-care like sleep and working out, and dating. But I guess I’m back to it? There’s no reason not to submit if I’ve got a contest or magazine and something appropriate sitting in the wings. Except, you know, rejection.

These days, rejection is a lot like a bee sting. It is painful and uncomfortable, but hardly fatal (I’m not allergic, so the analogy works for me) and the pain will diminish as time passes. Before long, all you remember is that you were stung. That’s what these rejections were. Painful and not something I wanted four of at once, but I handled it fine and I’m alright now. Honestly, the most frustrating part, and the only thing with any emotional bite left to it, is the lack of feedback.

Feedback is super useful when getting rejected because it means the reader like your stuff enough to make suggestions, even if it wasn’t what they were looking for. I don’t remember where I read it, but someone wrote that the process of getting published follows a pattern. First, you get form rejections. Then, once you have improved your craft, you start getting rejections with feedback. After that, you start getting a few small acceptances mixed into the rejections with feedback.

I know the above process is hardly something I can count on and not even an unlikely expectation, but it still sucks to not have gained anything from the stress and work of preparing something for submission and submitting. As annoyed as I felt, I felt even worse for my friend who had written an entire short story to submit and gotten a form rejection. I just took some poems, wrestled with my doubts, cleaned them up, and sent them off. Took about five or so hours, all told. My alpha reader spent several days working on this story, getting feedback, and turning it into something I honestly thought was a perfect fit.

While I didn’t enjoy it, I am thankful for this rejection. It forced me to slow down and take a break. I keep myself running at a high level of stress to maintain my focus, but I have a tendency to not let go of my tension when I need a break. I hold onto it and ruin my ability to enjoy whatever rest I’m allowing myself. Thanks to the rejection, I’m spending more time on taking care of myself and prioritizing doing things to recharge. I had someone contact me via my blog to recommend a game and I started playing that last weekend. I’m loving the game so far and enjoying having something super rewarding and engaging to invest my time in. I’m planning to review it for next week’s review day, so hang tight and you’ll get to read about a game that wound up being thematically appropriate to me and my life right when I started playing it.

The rejection sucked. The rest was good. Today, I feel more ready for the future than I’ve felt in well over a year. I am doing new things every week, constantly expanding my capabilities, and improving myself. I’m just over two months into 2018 and I really feel like this is going to be my year. I don’t know what it will bring, but I’m ready for it.

NaNoWriMo Day 30 (11/30)

I finished last night. I wrote my last 1500 words and then celebrated. I also wound up taking today off of work because I was up so late celebrating last night and I decided to reward myself this morning with a nice day off. A day of video games, reading books I’ve been ignoring, and reflecting on my month. Honestly, I could use a whole week off, but that’s a rather unreasonable expectation when I’ve actually got a 9-5 job to support my writing. It’s hard to support your writing with a job you’re not doing.

I think my biggest lesson from this month is that I’m still capable of incredible writing feats, though I really need to work on the “every day” part. Despite all of the time I’ve spent away from writing over the last year, since I entered NaNoWriMo in 2016 and decided not to attempt completion a day later, I’m still capable of pushing myself to produce a large number of words when I need to. My ability to write isn’t diminished, only my discipline and self-control when it comes to writing. Those will still be problems for a while, though. The end-of-month panic writing is clear evidence that I still need to work on pacing myself properly. Sure, I updated my blog every day, but the goal is to be able to write some of my story every day AND update my blog every day.

Which is something I still plan to do. Update my blog every day. I’ll find something for tomorrow and then spend my weekend working out an update schedule (for topics) and writing up a week’s worth of posts. Once I’ve gotten a decent buffer built up and worked out the kinks in WordPress’s scheduling function, I should be able to be able to just write the post a week ahead of time and schedule it for the next week. That way, I can still post on holidays without actually having to work on Holidays. Or, if I get sick again, I don’t need to struggle to make cohesive sentences, I can just focus on getting better and let my buffer take the hits. All-in-all, it sounds like a very solid if somewhat ambitious plan. Which is a theme of my plans. I really hope I manage to follow through on this one. It’d be really cool.

As for regular story writing, I’ll probably aim for 1000 words a day. Less than NaNoWriMo, but I’ll be able to go over 1000 words any time I want to. That, plus daily blog updates, should put me in the 1500 to 2500 word range which seems like plenty. I plan to continue my NaNoWriMo story until I reach the end, which should be in less than 100,000 more words. I would definitely say I’m in the 33%-50% range, so maybe I’ll finish it some time this spring. That’d be nice. Then I can get back to work on other projects while this story sits for a bit.

I’ve got so many things I want to work on and only what amounts to a part-time job’s worth of time to use unless I completely give up every other aspect of my life in order to write more. As rewarding as writing is, I think the last week has made it pretty clear to me that I need balance rather than unfettered pursuit. I’m super tired and ready for a rest. Maybe not a complete rest, but definitely a slow down.

 

Daily Prompt

In every story, there is a moment after the main action has concluded where the characters wrap up all the loose ends and make the last points on behalf of the author. Today, for the last day of National Novel Writing Month, write a scene about your character wrapping up your story. Maybe they’re talking with their friends after defeating the Big Bad Evil Person. Maybe they’re having a moment to reflect on their growth and the growth of those around them after coming of age. Maybe they’re looking back on all of their mistakes and realizing that they were wrong the entire time. Whatever it is, write it so that you can have the same sense of closure as the month ends.

 

Sharing Inspiration

One of my favorite things that crops up in older storytelling is the narrator speaking with the audience or invoking a muse. Tolkien didn’t do it in most of his fiction, but he wrote about what he called The Tree of Stories. Milton invoked a muse he referred to as The Holy Spirit. Shakespeare, in some of his plays, had the narrator invoke a muse. My favorite muse invocation is from Shakespeare’s King Henry V. The play begins with

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!

The narrator is calling upon a muse to help them tell the tale of King Henry the fifth, a tale of war that could not be properly captured on a stage alone. At the end of the play, the author follows up the invocation of a muse with an apology:

Thus far, with rough and all-unable pen,
Our bending author hath pursued the story,
In little room confining mighty men,
Mangling by starts the full course of their glory.

This is a sentiment I feel a lot of writers share and one that I don’t think was entirely an affectation by Shakespeare. King Henry the Fifth was incredibly popular in England when Shakespeare was alive, so he likely felt exactly as the epilogue of the play depicts–the same way almost any amateur writer feels–like we’re not good enough to tell the story properly. It feels nice to see that even someone as huge in the literary world as Shakespeare struggled with these same feelings of inadequacy.

 

Helpful Tips

Remember, as long as you did something this month, even if it wasn’t necessarily more than you otherwise would have, the important thing to note is that you tried. Try often, fail frequently, and try again. As long as you’re willing to keep trying, you’ve never really failed. There are many lessons in a project and almost all of them come from the failures you experience as your go about completing it. Failure isn’t bad. Its part of learning and growing. If you don’t fail, then you’re not really pushing yourself. As Jake the Dog once said, “Sucking at something is the first step towards being sort of good at something.”

NaNoWriMo Day 28 (11/28)

I’m a little ahead of schedule so far. I had to write 2500 words last night in order to finish on time, but I wrote 3200. That isn’t very far ahead of schedule, but doing it twice more means I only need to write 400 words on Thursday to finish. Which means I’d be able to start my recovery period and early nights on Thursday instead of Friday. I’m all for that, so we’ll see how it goes. Maybe I can do even more writing tonight so that I can just take Thursday entirely off. Nothing wrong with Finishing early, you know?

I also noticed that the “schedule your post” functionality of WordPress isn’t very precise. I had yesterday’s post all set to go up at 9 am, since I was going to be at work, and it didn’t actually post until I’d pulled up my website and logged in (of course it posted immediately when I logged in). I’m thinking I might be able to schedule the post, but I’ll need to actually still check every day if only make sure WordPress is doing what I told it to. It feels rather silly to have a schedule function that doesn’t really work, though. Maybe I should write up a bug report and submit it to the WordPress team. I do it for Google and video games all the time now, since I’ve become a professional software tester and all.

I haven’t gotten any comments on my post asking for suggestions of what to do with my blog after this month has ended, but I’m think it’ll probably be something a little more focused on creativity since my last blog before this one had focused on that and did much better in terms of views and followers even after I’d stopped updating it. The exact schedule it yet to be determined, but I’m pretty sure my first days of recovery are going to be spent creating a buffer of scheduled posts for me to fall back on while the actual recovery is happening this coming weekend.

A year of daily posts seems like a tall-order, but I’d have said the same thing before I decided to update this blog daily, so I suspect it’ll be a bit more achievable than I think it is right now. I might need to get an editor, though, since I’m clearly not that great at editing all of my posts before they go up. I’ve re-read some of the earlier ones and been horrified by the things I’ve missed.

I actually spent some time tonight playing one of my current favorite video games, Overwatch. I tend to prefer playing Tanks and Supports since I prefer the more strategic style of playing the game and playing a good tank is all about timing, situational awareness, and knowing where the tipping points are. Feeling the pressure building means you can anticipate when to drop your defense and attack with your DPS, while feeling it fall means you can be ready to cover the retreat of your supports and DPS when you need to get to a more defensible position or risk being torn apart. Those are my particular skills. I’m not great at soloing or flanking, but I am one of the best tanks I’ve played with at seeing the tipping points and being ready to take advantage of them. My main problem is that most of the people I play with online don’t even know that these tipping points happen, much less how to actually group around a tank. Tonight, though, I got to play with my friends and I cleaned house. It was wonderful. I’ll look into uploading some of the videos in the future, since I feel like they’re classic examples of the tipping points I’m talking about.

Hey! Talking about video games like that would make an excellent weekly feature! This content practically writes itself.

 

Daily Prompt

For those of us who spend a lot of time working on projects or doing things we’re not particularly good at, failure becomes a familiar face. One of the most important aspects of learning to create or improve is to accept that failure is going to be much more common than success, no matter how long you’ve been doing it or how good you get. If you aren’t risking failure, then you likely don’t have much to gain from what you’re doing. For today’s prompt, write a scene in which your character comes face to face with repeated failure as they try to learn something new or create something.  Show how your character responds to this failure and what happens as a result of them recognizing it.

 

Sharing Inspiration

Sometimes, you stumble across something that can only be a labor of love. Someone, at some point, wanted something and then took an incredibly long stretch of time to create something that perfectly fulfilled it before putting it up on the internet for everyone to see. One of my favorite examples is this list of 1000 totally random magical effects. I found it when working with a D&D player on a character concept that revolved around them causing random magical effects whenever they were frightened. I found a way to simulate rolling a d1000 and then would take whatever magical effect I got on the table. Examples include her character and the source of her fright had to pay 20% of their character’s total worth in the form of taxes. Another one was that the nearest tree (or, in this case, the mast of their airship) turned into a fully decorate Christmas tree complete with presents for everyone around underneath it. She also grew wings once. That was fun. This sort of dedication to an idea is something that always inspires me to keep working on my own crazy ideas and stories because someday, someone I don’t expect at all will find them and appreciate them.

 

Helpful Tips

Like I wrote in the prompt, failure is something you’re going to encounter a lot if you take any risks and trying to create something without taking any risks is not really worth doing. One of the books I’ve been reading for work, as my boss tries to encourage a creative and adventurous atmosphere in our R&D department, suggests that failing early and failing often is the best way to approach any task. If you spend all of your time planning, you’re still going to come up with one or more failures later in the process but you’ll have less time to correct those failures than if you’d just dived right in and started failing immediately.

Writing and NaNoWriMo are hard. I’ve failed NaNoWriMo twice. The first time, I failed so hard I didn’t even sign up to participate. I tried to pretend I didn’t need the accountability and that I’d be able to succeed on my own because I wanted to be able to hide any failure. Last year, I failed because I wasn’t willing to put the energy I had into writing every day or writing enough on my weekends to make up for not writing every day. Sure, I had my reasons, but there will always be reasons to not do something. Better to try and fail rather than not try and fail anyway. You always get something out of it when you try, even if you still wind up having failed just as much as if you hadn’t done anything.

Even if you know you won’t finish in time, don’t give up. Keep trying. Make your failure the best failure you can because the lessons you take out of this, the writing you’ve done when it is over, that will all still be there whether you succeed or fail. Every attempt is a learning experience and the ones that teach us the most are almost always the failures.

NaNoWriMo Day 23 (11/23)

Well, today is Thanksgiving in the US. A day to visit family, eat a lot of food, and not get a lot of work done unless you’re one of those unfortunate people who works in the food service or retail who have to spend the morning catering to irate last-minute shoppers or thrifty/greedy bargain-hunting consumers who left the comfort and warmth of their homes and families behind in order to get the deal on some electronics or household items without having to camp outside a store all night. Having done the camping thing before, to get a game console for one of my siblings, I can’t fault people who would choose to go out the day before if it were an option, but I still think its pretty awful to have people who need to work on holidays.

It’s a complicated issue since it involves income inequality, consumerism/capitalism, and a whole bunch of other things that can probably get wrapped under the inequality and consumerism/capitalism. I don’t feel like I should be commenting on this too much since I have a job with holidays, make enough money to live comfortably as a single adult, and participate in some parts of the consumerism and capitalism. I’m a part of the problem, if not the biggest part of the problem, so I don’t want to criticize.

Now that I’ve gotten that little rant out-of-the-way, I can complain about the cold that just won’t leave, won’t let me work, and is putting a serious hold on my travel plans. My head-fuzziness is back, so I don’t really trust myself to safely carry out all my original plans, so I’ve had to make some new ones. I also didn’t get much writing done yesterday, maybe 1000 words, and I don’t think I’m going to get much done today. If all I do today is rest, eat, and go to bed early, I think I’ll count myself accomplished. Tomorrow, though, we will see… This cold seems to take rather drastic leaps in different directions every time I sleep, so I’m hesitant to make projections about how tomorrow will go.

I really would like to keep writing. I’m at the exciting part where I introduce conflicts and start to really establish the main themes of the books. I’ve made little hints and set a lot of the stage of this moment during the past 15,000 words, so I’m excited to start writing it. I have an idea of where its going, but I really want to find out how its going to get there. I really hope I feel well enough tomorrow to just sit down and crank out the next several thousand words. That would be nice. I’d enjoy that.

 

Daily Prompt

Fear can drive us to do some rather ridiculous things. Fears related to physical harm can spur us to take action when we otherwise might not, they can cause us to flee what might be a dangerous situation, and they can drive us to perform better than we thought possible by giving us an extra bit of energy to burn. Fears related to emotion harm are much less clear-cut or cause-and-effect. Fear of rejection and abandonment can cause us to avoid attachments of any kinds. Fear situations that have hurt us before can cause us to avoid anything new or out of the ordinary. Nearly silent fears of our own inadequacy can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. Today, write about a fear your character experiences and what it makes them do, either to escape the fear or confront it.

 

Sharing Inspiration

Today’s inspiration is actually one of the first book series I ever got hooked on: the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. This series about anthropomorphic animals living in a wonderful high-fantasy setting is probably the biggest reason I came to love reading and eventually came to love writing. I didn’t do a whole lot of reading after I learned how to, preferring smaller books that wound up being a few years behind my reading level by the time I was given Mariel of Redwall and Redwall by one of my Aunts as a present. Intrigued by the Mouse with a sword on the cover of Redwall and the commercials I saw on PBS for the animated series, I dug right in and couldn’t get enough to read from then on.

The first author I ever met was Brian Jacques, only a year or two before he passed away. Even now, I can feel the influence the books had on me. Their dedication to making the world feel real and their abundant, wonderful descriptions of food struck a wonderful balance of just enough description to draw you in without losing the pace of the story. I still get sad when I remember that there will be no more Redwall books and I’ll admit that I’ve been unable to read the last book in the series because it’s too emotional. As long as I never read it, there will always be one more book I’ve never read and I’ll be able to put off having read them all.

 

Helpful Tips

As urgent and important as National Novel Writing Month can feel, its important to remember that the rest of your life is important as well. If you don’t manage to finish your writing this month, you haven’t really failed. Sure, you failed a goal you set for yourself, but you tried and trying is often more important for something as long-term as writing. If you can become good at trying, no matter what else happens when you try, I can guarantee you will eventually succeed. The would is full of writers who didn’t start writing right away. People who never even imagined themselves to be writers or that it would even be an option for them. Eventually, they started trying. Eventually, they succeeded. You may not make a million dollars or be the next JK Rowling, but that’s not the point of writing anyway. Write to tell stories. Write because you have something you want to say. Write because you love to use words. Finishing a story is success and whatever happens afterwards is just gravy.