Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sit with me, friends, and I will tell you the tale of a woman who believed she could write a 50,000 word novel at the same time she was finishing her college degree. Yes, right there is comfortable. No, don't touch the fine china. I don't have any fine china? Oh, then I guess you can touch it. I don't know whose that is.

You see, this woman believed in this novel, as many who begin such a journey do. The characters compelled her to write, and who was she to deny them a chance to tell their story? However, a 20-25 page final research paper loomed over November like a vulture over weakening prey. It knew its time would come. And as the writer neared the final third of the month, mentally fatigued, staggering through scenes in a daze, it could wait for its meal no longer!

Basically, I'm saying I lost NaNoWriMo.

But I didn't lose. And neither did you! If you embarked on this same crazy month of literary abandon, if you threw caution to the wind, if you let yourself dream a little bigger, a little harder (no, not like that, you naughty thing), then congratulate yourself! You've done something many are afraid to do. You tried. You looked fear of failure right in its ugly face and stuck your tongue out.

No, my friend. We did not lose. We only gained. Maybe you gained insight into a genre you've been meaning to try for a long time. Maybe you met a new character who made you smile or laugh or cry. Maybe you only wrote 5,000 words, but those words are the genesis of a story that will one day take the world by storm! Maybe you wrote 49,000 words, and there are some sentences or plot points in there waiting to be excavated from the mess and put to good use in a different novel.

You don't know. Not unless you keep going. NaNoWriMo might be over, but you still have a novel to write. You still have a story to tell, characters to breathe to life. Writing 50k in a month is an arbitrary goal. A fine, impressive, motivating goalbut arbitrary. It is okay if you cannot do that. Let me say that again. IT IS OKAY IF YOU CANNOT WRITE THAT MANY WORDS THAT QUICKLY. Not many writers can. It does not reflect your ability to tell a damn good story. It does not mean you are not or cannot be a damn fine writer.

What does determine that is whether you finish what you started.

Look at your story.

Now back at me.

Now back at your story.

Your story is now tickets to that thing you really love! Or it will be! One day! With edits and hard work and determination, it could be your ticket into the publishing industry. More importantly, your ticket into the hearts and minds of readers. Your story could be just what someone out there needs to read.

I know what you're thinking. This is an old joke. Does anyone even remember the Old Spice Guy commercials? But, Hayley, it's such a bad story. The plot is falling apart. The characters aren't showing active agency. The voice is ALL wrong. You don't even KNOW.

You're right. I don't know. I also don't care. Finish it.

Remember why you started, and finish it. Every great book today started out as a bad book. Don't give up. I believe in you. It's hard, but as my Grandma told my Mom who always tells me, "Just because something is hard doesn't mean it isn't worth doing."

Let's get 'er done!


  1. You rock, lady! Good luck finishing up your story, whenever that happens. Never give up! :)

    1. Thanks, Sara! I definitely plan on getting back to it as soon as possible. It's a bit raw, but there's some really honest, beautiful story in there, too. :)

      Congrats again on winning!

  2. Did you finish the finals paper?!?! You will finish your story as well, and I can't wait to read it!

    1. I did! Yesterday morning, in fact! It was such a relief to have it done. I've got to finish up a short novella assignment for a different history class, but then I'd love to get back into A Bear Gorged on Sorrow. Thanks for your encouragement, Emily! *hugs* :D

  3. And "if it were easy, everyone would do it". Not everyone can write, and achieving any word count is brilliant. No losers here. ABGOS is going to be great - written quickly or slowly.

    1. Also a good quote! Writing can be difficult, but I find that it's very much an "object in motion stays in motion" sort of deal. Doing it every day, regardless of whether you feel like it or not, helps tremendously. That's why I like NaNoWriMo. It's a great discipline-builder, if nothing else!

      And thank you, Sandie! One day I hope to share ABGOS with you! Now that I'm done with school, I'm thinking about jumping back into it. At least until I'm called to more revisions for MACHINATIONS. ;)