This week I’ve spent a lot of time grappling with the possibility of failure.
Which is, of course, moronic because I broke 40,000 words on Monday and that’s more words than I’ve written toward any manuscript, and 40,000 more words than I had when I started, so it’s impossible, really, to call what I’ve done a failure.
It’s easy to tell ourselves that, it’s quite another to accept it.
I really wanted, and still want, to get that WINNER badge on my user icon on the NaNoWriMo website. It’s still possible, if I really blitz these last few days but yesterday I hit a brick wall.
I’ve heard some people say they don’t believe in writer’s block, and maybe what I experienced wasn’t writer’s block, but it was definitely my worst nightmare: a corner. I had failed to answer a fundamental question that drives the entire novel, thinking that by the time I needed it, a solution would have presented itself. It didn’t. I brainstormed all day long about how to escape the panic room I’d locked myself in. I started three different drafts of the same scene. None of them presented the answer I wanted, and all of them gave me a profound sense of hopelessness.
I honestly wanted to quit. A small part of me is still saying that I should scrap these 40,000 words and use the partial first draft as a cautionary tale. And, perhaps, I will do that, but only once it’s completed. Which means clobbering my way through this trouble spot come hell or high water.
But before I reached that hard-won conclusion I thought a lot about stopping here and now for my own mental health. As I entered the second day of stressing out about it, I came to a point where every time I thought about the stupid scene I would come close to tears. I felt like a failure for allowing myself to get so cornered, for not planning ahead better, for letting this one question stop me from reaching my goal less than 9000 words short of the finish line.
I honestly craved the serenity of knowing that I did my best and it’s okay not to have won first time out. But it never came.
And then, scrolling through Twitter whilst trying to avoid the problem, I saw those immortal words, “Nevertheless, she persisted.”
It was exactly what I needed to hear.
I hate this scene. I hate the words in it. I hate every single sentence. Revision is going to be a vicious blood bath and I’m going to enjoy it so much. And the only reason I’m going to get that opportunity is because I didn’t give in to despair. I finished the scene a little while ago and then came straight here to talk about the possibility of failure.
It’s still okay to fall short of 50,000 words. I still believe that NaNoWriMo is meant to be what you want it to be, and that as long as you have more than you started with then it is worth it to try.
But I wanted to quit for all the wrong reasons, and it’s important to recognize that too.
Yikes, I’ve gotta get back to it. 4000 words today if I want to make up for yesterday.
Until next week, when I hope to triumphantly inform you that I got out of my own way and steamrolled my way to victory.
This Week I’m Reading: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.
I’m about halfway through and enjoying it well enough. I found myself wishing it had more fantasy elements aside from just the time travel, but that’s hardly a mark against it, and only speaks to my own personal tastes. On Friday night I decided I would read a chapter or two before bed, hit Claire and Jamie’s marriage and then suddenly it was 6:30 in the morning. The romance is delicious and swept me away in a way I haven’t been by a book in a long time. I haven’t yet decided whether or not to pursue the rest of the series right away. I suppose that will depend on how it ends.
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