Participation Trophies Don't Get You Published

Fuck You Nano: Day 25

I want to give up. And not really ‘give up’ per se. What I mean is, two days ago I hit the point in my draft where I was actually able to type “The End”

It was a first for me. I really tried to drag it out, I’m not going to lie. I tried to make it so my final word was RIGHT AT 50,000.

That didn’t happen. Fuck you, NaNo for that.  My story was done telling itself at about 46,500 words. So...seven days left in NaNo (five now) and the novel I’m working on is done. I mean...the first draft is done. I know there are at least four or five more edits and revisions before it’s actually readable by someone who doesn’t share my family tree.

But it’s done.

The story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  It’s a milestone, to be sure. This is a rush, though. I mean...I wrote a fucking book. OK, so I wrote the first draft of a futhermucking book!!

BUT...for the second year, I didn’t hit 50,000 words for NaNo. So...here I am. I’m writing. Poems. Songs. Blog posts. Story ideas for books I want to write at some point in my future. And hey-now that I have actually finished a draft of a book, I know that I CAN actually finish one.

I never really knew how much that would mean.

When you grow up thinking you are a writer, there isn’t really the thought that you might not be able to finish something.

I have about 1500 songs (and by songs, I mean lyrics to songs where only about 10% actually have music written for them) and countless poems from all through my life. My most prolific period was during my first marriage. My driest was during my second. Which is neither here nor there.

But a song lyric and poem have a natural flow. They have a natural resting place where it doesn’t make any sense to write anything else.

Blogs, too, are the same. There is a natural flow. I’m sitting here. I’m typing my thoughts. At some point I get the realization that I no longer give two shits about what I’m writing. And if I’ve hit that point, it means that you, the reader, probably hit that point about two-hundred words ago. So...boom. Peace Out. -a.t.

And post.

So, I guess it never occurred to me that it would be a struggle to finish a book.  In hindsight, that was a sentiment riddled with hubris. I mean, I'm a writer, of course I can finish a book. What do you mean I might not be able to?

I learned that the hard way last November when I started writing The Treachery of Rainbows. I got to about the middle of the month. I was sitting somewhere around 23,000 words. And the whole thing just stalled.

I am sure there was some life stuff going on there, too.

But story wise, I looked at my characters and I realized that they were just circling the bowl. The words were empty and I didn't know, let alone really care, what happened to them at that point. So I stopped.

I gave myself a pat on the back for starting a book. A real book. And I gave myself a pat on the back for sort of sticking to NaNo. At least for about 2 ½ weeks.

And that was it. I gave myself a fucking participation trophy.  But I still didn’t have a finished book.

I would never walk in to that Airport bookstore and see half of a fucking draft that I wrote half-crazed on caffeine and delusions.

Fast forward twelve months. I had an idea for a book for NaNo.  A different book. One that I hadn’t even started.  NOT the book that I DID start and had shelved for a year. Because….damn dude...that’s hard. Finishing books is hard. Starting books is easy. I could probably start two or three for the month and hit fifty-thousand, and maybe not actually EVER finish one.

And that’s kind of when it really hit me.  What made me think I could start AND finish a brand new book when I had the half-written husk of a book already sitting on the shelf? A book, I might add, that I liked a hell of a lot more than the pissant of an idea I thought I could sustain for a month of writing.

Fuck you, NaNo.

Fuck you for making me THINK about my craft. For making me actually sit down and figure out where the story was going. For having to plot (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD--PLOT) out where the story needed to go.

And for the little nugget of realization that the story I was working on wasn’t just one story, it was three. THREE. THREE BOOKS. ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS?!?!?

I couldn’t finish one book last year. What made me think that I could actually write a series?

So. I did the only thing that made any sense.

I dusted off that book. Saying to myself that the 23,000 words I wrote last year were last year’s words, I reset the counter to zero.

And, 46,500 words later, the story was finished. The first draft. My first real I’m-not-fucking-around-I-actually-believe-I-am-a-writer book of a book now had a finished first draft.

So, I guess when I say ‘fuck you, NaNo,’ what I really mean is thank you.

If it were not for NaNo and for my writing groups, I probably wouldn’t be in the situation of having a finished first draft of a novel seven days before the end of NaNoWriMo and trying to find shit to write about to hit my word goal for the month.

Um. Yeah. So...let’s see where this thing goes from here.

boom, Peace Out

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