On Failure: Nanowrimo Update 4

In which, two months later, a novel is still not written, most of my planning fell to the wayside, and I do not feel much at all like a hero.

So…. basically, that went as well as could have been expected.

I’ve been muddling over this post for quite a while, wanting to write it but not entirely sure what to say, or wanting to say something but having absolutely no idea how to say it. Because (1) if this was to be an interesting exercise in process, it should contain my failures as well as my victories. And (2) if this is meant even a little to hold myself accountable, it had better include my failures. Especially include my failures.

And I failed.

Here’s what happened: I got a lot of good writing done on the plane across the country to visit my parents for thanksgiving. Caught up two or three days’ worth. I was at a point where I had to write about two days’ worth for a week in order to succeed. The end was almost in sight. I thought I could do it.

The problem was, confronted with the alternatives “spend time with my family, who I haven’t seen in months” and “sit on the couch writing a novel”, I chose the former. I can’t really get myself to feel bad about that so much as I half wish I had made a plan going into it so that I could have done both — had an hour or two of dedicated writing time each day, with other times explicitly reserved for family. And maybe next year that’s the goal.

Of course, that would work better if I was reserving an hour or two (enough time to write one day’s 1,667 words) rather than upwards of four (enough to catch up to where I needed to be).

In the end, I couldn’t pull it off. So that’s where I was: 80% of my way to the end, with 41,000 words or so and a feeling of defeat. And that’s where it stayed, while I wrapped up a job, and moved across the country, and fretted about how exactly to write up a post about it.

I still have a story I’d like to finish. I have better ideas for having sat on it and let it stew in the back of my head. Now that I have a bit more stability, my plan is to get back to work on it. And I’ll let you know how that goes.

Maybe, I tell myself, if this entire process is a novel, this was the moment at the end of third act where the protagonist fails, and the fourth act where she regroups and gets ready to come back even stronger. So here’s me hoping I’m going to come back even stronger.

Elizabeth Finn

Elizabeth is a geneticist working for a shady government agency and therefore obliged to inform you that all of the views presented in her posts are her own, and not official statements in any capacity. In her free time, she is an aerialist, a dancer, a clothing designer, and an author. You can find her on tumblr at, on twitter at @lysine_rich, and also on facebook or google+.

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