The Wreck of the Dickson Fitzgerald


I write this from the remnants of NaNoWriMo 2012.

It’s November 19 and I have around 10,000 words that I simply do not like.  I don’t feel any excitement.  I don’t feel any investment.  I don’t feel any momentum.  I’ve been adding words solely because I have to add words.  And that suddenly struck me as exactly the wrong reason to be writing anything.

Last year was different.  I liked what I was doing.  I was surprising myself with where the story was going.  There was more to it than just “the hook.”  I had a pretty clear idea of the ending; the challenge was getting there, and I was eager to see how I could pull it off.  This year, it’s been all hook.  Nothing beyond the initial concept.  No path, just a meandering journey in search of a story.  It’s been like throwing more and more clay on a sculpture hoping it eventually ends up looking like something.  And what I’ve ended up with just looks like a big lump of clay.

I’m discouraged, but not disappointed.  I’m not looking at it as a failure.  Yeah, I know, I’d put some high hopes to finishing two years in a row — and I technically still have eleven days, although with Thanksgiving and the Louis CK show in Tampa, I doubt I’ll have much time to throw at it — but I’m also not going to declare this some life-defining defeat.  Stuff happened and I didn’t reach a self-imposed, arbitrarily determined number of words in a set amount of time.  That’s it.

But I do want to use this as an opportunity to double down on some other things that I let slip to the side while I tried to do NaNoWriMo this year.  Like getting this blog back on a regular schedule.  And giving some time to some other projects that deserve more serious attention than a 30-day sprint.  NaNoWriMo is a great thing, don’t get me wrong; I felt really good about myself when I finished last year.  But I’m not going to feel down because I didn’t this year. Writing anything worthwhile is a marathon.  I need to be in it for the long haul, not for one furious month.

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