Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Midweek NaNo Post

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

-- William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Three reasons why I considered throwing in the towel on NaNoWriMo this week:

Losing my cat. My head knows Jak is at peace, which he absolutely deserved; my heart thinks my head is a stupid cold bitch who should shut the hell up. Neither one can sleep.

Accepting the latest bounce. A snotty no-thanks came in on a referral pitch (when one editor sends you to another.) I knew going in it would probably result in some sort of slapdown, so my bad. It's so beautifully snide, though, that I might have to frame it for posterity.

Plowing through my latest read. I made the mistake of picking up a critically-acclaimed novel from the remainder bin and thinking, Oh, why not? (Can you hear Jesus weeping? I didn't.)

These and other challenges have made like leeches on my creative energy, and naturally the writing has suffered. I know I'm cranky -- I had to edit this post five times before it stopped singeing off my eyelashes -- and every morning I start off in combat meditation mode: I will find my center and embrace my grief and not utter a single whisper about how much this towering heap of unadulterated critically-acclaimed crap I'm reading stinks. Most days I still want to kick an inanimate object, so the easiest thing would be to quit now before I explode. Before I break a toe or dent the dryer. Before I fail.

I'm sure many of you are dealing with issues that make mine look like a stroll through the park on a fine day; maybe some of you are thinking the same thing. So we can all go lock ourselves in a dark room and stay there watching soap operas and game shows and wondering if we should invest in Mister Steamy, The Wonder File, or that bracelet that is supposed to give you energy (preferably in the next ten minutes, so we can get an extra one for free if we just pay shipping & handling.) We could stay there until December 1st, when the chubby lady breaks into song. So much easier.

Only if we do that -- if we bail on NaNoWriMo -- we'll miss a rare opportunity. Times like these are when we're allowed to spit in the eye of the universe. When we reach this point, we're permitted to flip off fate, and tell bad luck to take a hike. This is when we can look at the yawning abyss avidly eyeing us, and say: No. You're not taking a bite out of me, or sucking me in, or swallowing me. I say when I'm finished, not you.

The abyss never knows how to respond to this because the abyss has never had to work for it.

I don't know if I'll make 50K words by December 1st, and frankly? I don't care. When I finish editing this post (for the sixth time), I'm going back into that room, and open my NaNo file, and write my story. And I'm going to keep writing my story, whenever I can, however I can, right up until midnight on November 30th.

The damn towel stays where it is.

Image credit © Ilya Genkin |


  1. the kitty - many hugs

    the bounce - so the person has lousy taste

    the read - idiot me, I take the kids to the library, and let myself come home with (good) books

    the cranky - after yet another possible diagnosis was ruled out yesterday, I was ready to throw a tantrum. (I no longer care WHY I hurt, I just want it to STOP.)

    the towel - what towel? (backtrack) oh, THAT towel. it's a raggedy washcloth at this point, but I'm not quite willing to give up yet.

    And, (grumble), my boys have three-perfectly acceptable towels, and my daughter has scored herself a decadent, blanket-size towel with super growing powers.

  2. Hugs for your week and all the struggles, but you're right. It never is easy. Better to be the one to choose rather than letting this choose for you.

    Me, all I'm dealing with is the flu. But as soon as my brain is back in order (and it's closer), I'll be back there working on words. I have a lot to catch up on.

  3. You're not alone. There seems to be a lot of folks that are feeling down and blue. I'm glad you're hanging in there. I hope the month gets better for you.

  4. If you know where your towel is, you can handle anything the universe throws at you.

    Wah on the bounce. Especially the snotty. The NY Journal of books called my prose banal this month, does that make you feel better?

    Jesus is weeping and saying to put that book down and read something else.

  5. It doesn't help that this point in Nano is when the book usually stops working. You've sailed too far and you can't see shore anymore so you have to steer by the stars but it's cloudy. No fun, but you'll make it through to the opposite shore. I know you will.

  6. Thanks for the encouragement! This week I have a cold, scored two job interviews and have to travel for work. The house is a mess, I'm exhausted, and I recently discovered that more than a decade ago, someone made a TV show out of "Emily of New Moon" (the books of which I secretly liked even more than "Anne of Green Gables") and it is available to watch via Netflix instant watch. Of course I must watch both seasons, in their entirety, despite the overly maudlin nature of the show. Right now.

    Ahem. But I'm not giving up. Thanks for the pep talk. And again, I am so sorry about Jak. Draw strength from your writing. It doesn't always feel like it, but writing is one of the things that can get us through times of pain.

  7. I really do believe Jak has been welcomed and encircled by the light and I know that doesn't make you feel one it better. So I'll just send lots of hugs.

  8. Anonymous9:59 AM

    How do you change your state of mind when things conspire to drag you down? I've wrestled with this problem a lot. And not always successfully.

    Sometimes, if I take a half step back from the quagmire, I'm able to see that even intense feelings of grief or rage are transitory, fleeting. I'm not saying we should dismiss our reactions to life blows, just don't let them have more importance than they've earned. (I have found it comforting to realize I am not my feelings--others might not.)

    I'm sorry for the loss of your cat. They are such a comfort and their loss leaves a big hole, but I wouldn't chose a life without animals for company.
    I bet you wouldn't either.

  9. Since Day One of NaNo, I have had one crisis after another...daily. I have had a sick husband, a near fatally ill dog, a completely screwed up house remodel, all of which have led me to grabbing that freaking towel, and twisting it in my frustrated, white-knuckled hands while looking desperately for the best place to fling it, far, far away from me.

    I have given up three times in the past week, but somehow find myself back in front of the computer. Glutton for punishment? Too stupid to live? Maybe both.

    I'm not sure I will finish NaNo this year either. If I don't, at least I can tell myself I gave it my best shot--against the odds--and didn't throw in the towel, even though I wanted to with all my being. That's gotta count for something...right?

  10. Atta girl. I've had a rough week for novelling, too, and it's heartening to see your nearly-identical word count (I started the morning with 14488 an hit 14356 before thinking, hey, I should see where PBwriter is...), and read that you're not giving up.

    I'll see you on the 30th.


  11. Hugs, I'm so sorry about Jak.

    I've been sick this week and all the "ahead" words I'd built up have disappeared and now I'm behind. I'm still glad I finished two projects already for NaNo, but now I'm struggling to START the third. I just can't get into it. Could be that I'm still low energy from being sick. I'll give it one more day and then try working on the other new project on the back burner.

    Usually when I'm behind I burn with competition and motivation to get caught up and ahead, but I'm afraid that pilot light has burned out!

  12. I'm really sorry you're going through so much lately. But you've definitely got the right attitude and I commend you from bouncing back from hard times. :) Here's to NaNoWriting!


  13. I'm sorry about your kitty. And the snotty. And the lousy read.
    But yay on not throwing in the towel. I'm not nano-ing this year, but I am cheering folks on. *waving pompoms*

  14. First things first, you wouldn't be the person that I think you are (web reality is that technically you could be a bald midget with hairy forearms named Derek, but I'm doubting it)if you weren't grieving the loss of your beloved cat. Its a big loss, and the hurt should be big.

    We're here for you, friends and family and fans. We care and we get it. I for one hope that you get some small comfort from these comments of condolence - I know that when I've suffered great losses, the cards and notes and emails were a great help to me.

    But, about that ridiculous (love the word "snide" gonna use it somewhere today) rejection: just remember to send this jerk an autographed copy of your next bestseller. Snide message optional, but I'd vote yes to it (you're probably too nice for this).

    And, lastly PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take all this negative emotion and vent on the critically-acclaimed crud. I can't tell you how much I would love to read this, and how disgusted I am with some of this stuff. It's just ridiculous. Plus, I'm thinking it might be healthy for you to just throw some anger out there. Maybe you let us read it, maybe you don't.

    Okay. That's as close as I can get to a big hug and a bar of chocolate.

    God bless you and yours.

  15. Liz B1:18 PM

    This post really inspired me. I know I'm not going to make it to 50k words, but reading this is going to keep me pushing on, even if I'm not going to make it. No matter what happens, I need to just keep going. Thanks for posting this.

  16. I know what towel you mean, but I can't help but think about the Hitchhiker's version. Hang in there.

  17. Give 'em hell Lynn - take no prisoners! And go ahead - rant, vent, actually take some time when needed to cry, shout, scream at the crapola of life. It may not be the approved method but it's always made me feel better!

  18. Good on you. Keep it up. Don't let the bastids grind ya down.

    I feel as off as you do, yet for reasons so thin it would embarrass me to whing about them.

    Besides, I know that when I'm feeling like this, it's the fatigue talking.

    I'm reading "A Sultry Month," an account of one month in literary London in 1846. Great book, filled with gossip, an on-the-ground look at what daily life was like (the title is a reference to the hottest summer England had experienced, where farm workers collapsed in the fields and suicides were common).

    Anyway, Keats wrote about a friend that he understood what it was like to be a creative artist: "the turmoil and anxiety, the sacrifice of all that is called comfort, the readiness to measure time by what is done, and to die in six hours, could plans be brought to conclusions; the looking on the sun, the moon, the stars, earth and its contents, as materials to form greater things."

    Love that last phrase, especially.

  19. Anonymous4:38 PM

    You are an adult and you do get to say "NO" to that rotten, critically acclaimed book. Then you can reward yourself with a great book that makes your heart soar. And if it matters, you have my permission to simply toss 'that' book into the trash or recycle it with Goodwill. Hope tomorrow is better.

  20. {{{{{{{{Lynn}}}}}}}}

    First of all, you need to grieve and know, it's okay to do so. You may lose several more nights of quality sleep, but it's all part of the process. Jak knows. He's watching.

    As far as everything else goes, you have no idea how badly I needed to read this today. I've gotten so bad, my head is generally as blank as the page I'm staring at and I've started crying with joy when the woman in the TV commercial gets her floor clean.

    If you can do it, I can too! I may not finish either, but I'm in excellent company :o)

  21. Eh, I'm probably getting a bounce on a project I was really excited about. Bounces suck rotten eggs.

    I'm not NaNoing, but I had too much crap this month anyway, surgery, which was planned-training a new nurse which required a brief return to the old day job, planned, then I lost two friends so not expected at all. No...NaNo wasn't on my list. The bounce kind of has me down.

    I won't get down over it though-any more down, at least. A bounce now doesn't mean i can't write it...just mean I won't be doing it right now. That's how I'm looking at it.

    I really want 2010 over though.

    Two surgeries, too many personal losses, an overall not fun year. Is it over yet?

  22. Thank you for the encouragement. I too have faced adversity this November. I'm really behind, and I don't know if I'll be able to finish. But you sharing your struggles has encouraged me to keep trying. Thank you.