Posts Tagged ‘persistence’

Victory March

Yesterday, I was tired.  I posted a throw-away blog entry because I felt like garbage.  I barely scratched out my minimum word count and it took me four agonizing hours to do it.  I hated writing with every fiber of my being, and I wanted nothing more than to say, “I have twelve days, and only five thousand words.  I should just take it easy the rest of the month.”  I didn’t.  But, believe me, I wanted to.  Every torturous minute yesterday reminded me that writing takes discipline.  It takes the determination to push through when it’s hard, when it’s painful, when it isn’t fun.

Yesterday, writing was not fun.  I left the day at 46,700 words.  So close, and I was certain that the same thing was going to happen today.  I was sure in fact that my novel was going to be hideously unpleasant to write for the duration of its first draft, and then at the end I would discover I had only trash and hundreds of wasted hours of my time.  Yesterday, I wanted to quit.

But that was yesterday.

I did it.  For the first time in SIX years of attempting National Novel Writing Month, I did it.  At 11:00, Mountain Daylight Time, I crossed the fifty-thousand word barrier for the first time in my life.  Even as I drudged through a whole chapter today that I found incredibly boring to write, but necessary for character development, I kept thinking about how close I was.  I could taste the victory champagne (it’s Dr Pepper, really) at the end of that final lap.  And now that I’m here, the victory is as sweet as I ever imagined it could be.

Today, I’m done writing.  But my story is not finished, and my novel is not complete.  Some people will take their fifty-thousand words this month, put them away and think, “Ah, that was great,” and not think an iota of writing again until next November.  But, I’m not done yet.  I’m only about 40% of the way through, in fact, but it’s the hard 40%.  It’s that first 10 miles of a marathon.  Ten miles.  I haven’t run ten miles in more than half a decade.

Tomorrow, I go back to work.  Tomorrow, the words may come fast or they might come slow.  There will be moments of exciting outpourings of creative energy and there will be moments of drudgery and impatience and bitterness and depression.  But I can do this.  I can finish this.  I can’t stop now.

Running and running and… running.

I imagine that the feelings I have toward my novel right now are very similar to those of a runner who has just completed mile number five… of a marathon.  It’s a good feeling to have reached that marker.  You run over to the side and grab a cup of water, throw it down your throat and press on to the cheering cries of the crowd, who are all waving their hands and secretly – or not secretly – jealous that they are not also running a marathon.

There is still, though, in the back of your mind, this tugging, nagging feeling that says: I have how many miles left?  At just shy of 30,000 words, I have that same nagging voice in the back of my head.  This afternoon, I politely told that voice where he could shove it, and proceeded to write 2,500 words, bringing my total to 27,606.  See, I’ve decided that my focus while I write this novel (or any project from now on, for that matter) is going to be on what I’ve finished and where I am.  Worrying about what I’ve got left to do seems like it only leads to further stress and panic.

I ‘finished’ early today, which means I got my quota in before 9:00, which is a good day for me.  I’m torn now between writing more later today and trying to push past the thirty thousand mark and taking the rest of the night off to relax and saving that 30k line for tomorrow.  For now, I’m going to bask in the wonder that has been ten straight days of literary abandon.  Ah, feel that cool crisp breeze flowing over my face.  No wait… who opened the window?! It’s freezing in here!

See you tomorrow for more writing updates and anecdotes and witty one-liners, and also, tonight or tomorrow 30,000 words completed!

First Snow and Another Milestone

Snow is falling as I type this, for the first time this year.  It’s odd for the first snowfall to come so late in the autumn here in Colorado, but I welcome it.  There’s something to be said for the serenity and innocence that comes with writing while the snow settles onto the ground.  I shut the lights off in my office while I wrote, and opened the blinds, so that I could see it coming down.

I don’t know if it was the snow falling or just sheer determination that pushed me over the hump today, but I got myself motivated enough this afternoon to finally crawl, bleeding and gasping for breath, over the halfway mark, at least for this month’s writing challenge.  As far as National Novel Writing Month is concerned, I’m now 50% through.

With respect to the finished product, though, the number is not quite so high, but I would place it at a respectable 20%, which I still find encouraging.  I expect to cross over the fifty thousand mark sometime during the week leading up to Thanksgiving, and really, I think that’s a good thing to finish NaNo so early, because it gets the monkey off of my back, and it lets me gently escort the elephant from the room.  At fifty thousand words, I will still be less than half finished, but I will be so far into the story, that I’m sure there won’t be any turning back.  I may still use the NaNoWordSprints twitter account as a motivation for me to write every day, but the contest will be over.

One of the things I’m starting to see now, as I get deeper and deeper into my main character’s background and into the story itself, is how many loose ends there will be to tie up as I come tumbling toward the end of the novel.  It’s almost as if the novel writing process is one that pays you back as you put effort and time into it.  I don’t want to call it literary karma, but the principle seems to be the same.  What I do for the story in character creation, situation development and sheer determination looks like it will come back and write the last third of my story for me, provided I’m willing to spend the requisite time in front of the keyboard.

The novel I’m writing, I think, is going to be the first in a series, either three or four books long, and I know that some of those loose ends are going to need to be left untied, and more will need to be unraveled as I get further along in the story, but I’ve got to tell you, until you get this far into your novel, you’re not going to be able to see how fulfilling it will be.

I love writing.  I can’t say that enough.  I don’t know why it took me so long to finally, really, sit down and just do everything it takes to press forward with my goals and my dreams.  It could not be more appropriate right now for me to see the snow falling.  It brings with it a sense of renewal and carefree persistence that I could not possibly frame into words.