Failure

Out in the country
Out in the country

I took the picture of this fixer-upper a couple of weeks ago. Since I haven’t been blogging much this month, it is the first chance that I’ve had to use it.

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I’ll bet that title caught your attention. This was actually the fourth title that I considered. My first thought was to title this post “Abject Failure,” but that seemed too harsh. My next thought was to use the title “Total Failure,” but since I’m writing about myself, that stung too much. Then I thought. “Failure Most Foul,” but let’s face it, that is just over the top. So I went with the simple, yet emphatic, “Failure.” You’ll see why.

When I tried the NaNoWriMo challenge last year, a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, I finished it with a couple of days to spare. Not this year. I was on target with my writing goals through the first ten days, but after that, Phttt, as they say in the cartoons.

I could say that I was distracted too much this month, and that is partially true. Unfortunately they were self-administered distractions. I started working on side projects that were related to my novel this year, but they weren’t actual writing on the novel. Perhaps I’ll write about those side projects at a later date, but for now you’ll have to accept that they came up.

No, the true reason I failed to finish my novel in time is that I didn’t sit at the keyboard each day and grind out the text. That is something that I could have done, but chose not to do. When I did write I found that I was spending too many words on areas of the book that didn’t need to be explained so much, and that kept me from getting to more important plot points. Perhaps I was sabotaging myself so that I wouldn’t have to take on the more difficult aspects of the story. And maybe now I’m being too grandiose, concerning my writing. I didn’t finish it. End of story. For now. I can’t knock out 20,000 coherent words in the next 10 hours.

I plan on finishing the novel. whether it is 50,000 words, or more, or less, I’ll finish it. I think the story is fun, and I want to see how it turns out. But I won’t be finishing in the near future. We have a party to throw this weekend. We’ll be getting together with family and friends. And I’m sure a few other things will happen. When it is done, I shall share it with a few people who have expressed an interest, and I’ll announce it here. Let me know if you want to see a copy of the finished novel. Most people seem disinclined to read 50,00 words anymore.

Speaking of reading, that may be my next failure. I set myself a reading challenge this year of reading a book in each of seventeen categories. So far I have only completely read thirteen.

With only a month to go I am not sure that I can get the final four in. I haven’t given up completely, but as I pointed out above, December may be as busy a month as November was.

I don’t have any real excuses as to why I haven’t already completed this challenge. As of July I was on track to complete my reading assignment by October. Then I slipped from my list and read a few books that didn’t fit any of my needed categories. If I had been more on task, I could have ended successfully a month or more ago. Not I have to sprint, and my wind isn’t that good. I’ll write a summation on the challenge early next year. Until then, wish me luck.

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Lessons that I am learning

President Washibngton in profile
President Washington in profile

This is a picture from our vacation last month. It is a familiar view to anyone who has been to Mt. Rushmore, but I can’t recall seeing anyone else publishing it. I love the front on view of all four presidents that everyone knows, but I also like this one.

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Last year, after I finished the NaNoWroiMo challenge I wrote a post about the lessons that I had learned while writing. At least I think I did. I know that I meant to. I’ll have to look for it. Anyway, I decided that this year I would write something during the challenge. So far I have learned three things in the first seven days.

  • I tend to add characters for whom, after their initial introduction, I have no real use. In the first two chapters I have introduced twenty-two characters. There were twenty-three, but I decided to combine two minor characters into one major character. I already had a character die. I’ve changed the name of one character so that I can use him later in another way. I guess that is the same as merging two characters into one. I have at least six other characters that I would like to shed, but unless there is a volcanic eruption or some other cataclysm, I see no good way to eliminate them all without rewriting chunks of my narrative. That means I have to get ahead on my word count so that I can spend time rewriting now rather than later.
  • I should never try to write and listen to music that I love at the same time. I made the mistake yesterday morning of putting on Jerry Jeff Walker and it has cost me dearly. I’m having trouble concentrating on my narrative, especially when Jerry Jeff is singing “We Were Kinda Crazy Then” or “”Couldn’t Do Nothin’ Right” or “My Buddy.” It is impossible for me to think about anything, let alone use a keyboard, when these songs and others are playing. Why did I do that to myself?
  • I have to take better control of my characters! Most of them seem to be giving in to sexual temptation rather than living repressed lives. Granted, most of the physical stuff is happening off-page, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Take it from me, they are all, or practically all, practicing safe sex. Still, I wish that the females would be more demure, but they seem to be he worst of the lot. Or would that be worse of the lot? There are only two sexes, at least in this book, so I’m not sure that one sex could be the worst. Would a grammarian please shed light on that one for me?

So, that’s what I’ve learned so far this year.