A Big, Fat Fail


You know my messages designed to recruit you for National Novel Writing Month?  You know, the ones I posted all over Facebook reminding you that you’d be dead someday and that you needed to fulfill your dream of being a novelist?  I’m not sure how many of my friends actually decided to participate in the program this year, but I am not doing so well.  I’ll have to do 2,000 words per day to finish by November 30 because I am so behind this first week.  So much for role modeling and all that jazz.

Oh, I can hear what you’re thinking.  Quit writing this damn blog and go back to your novel.  Oh, wait, that’s what I’m thinking, not what you’re thinking.

I am caught in a spinning vortex of suck.  I have an idea for a character, but I have no idea what to do with my character.  I’m also depressed because, just before NaNoWriMo started, I received two rejections for short stories I had submitted to magazines.  Stephen King, in On Writing, said that he used to stick his rejection letters on a nail that was sticking out of his wall.  Eventually, he had to get a spike because his pile of rejections was so huge.  I’m hanging my letters on the wall, too.  At the rate I’m going, I’m going to have to install some additional wall support.

I tend to descend into this “What’s it all for?” mentality.  You know, why should I even bother because I’m never going anywhere with this fiction-writing dog and pony show.    I should do something practical with my time, instead of writing stories that no one, except for my dear husband and a couple of my other friends, has read.  But Jackie, you say, what you’re describing is called whining.  And you need to stop whining.  Suck it up and just keep writing.

My friends, I have a good case of writer’s block right now.  The ideas that were shooting out of my head like sunbeams are now landing on the floor with a soft, squelchy thud.  I don’t know if the “thud” comes so much from having lousy ideas as it does from having no faith in my ideas.  Ideas qualify as “good” when you believe in them.  Right now, I do not believe.  I’ll snap out of it in a little while, but I don’t know if I’ll snap out of it in time to salvage this NaNoWriMo.

So, if you listened to my inspiring “You’ll be dead soon” talk, and decided to take the novel-writing plunge, I commend you.  My first year, in 2009, I wrote about 28,000 words and then gave up.  In 2010, I took some of those ideas and finished my novel.  It felt fabulous, and, after a lot of revising, I feel like the novel became pretty decent.  If I had given up on my old ideas, I guess I would never have completed that novel in 2010.

A big, fat fail may not always be a bad thing.   However, it is embarrassing when you open your big ol’ mouth and tell everyone out there they should join you in writing a novel in November.  Unfortunately, as it turns out, I am no role model.  I’m wallowing in a landfill of self-pity, feeling like all of my ideas are rotting smelly piles of garbage.

4 thoughts on “A Big, Fat Fail

  1. Erin says:

    Don’t worry about the November deadline. Write about what you want to write about when you want to write. That sentence made me dizzy. Perhaps your goal should be to get as many rejection letters as possible–a little reverse psychology. Those letters mean you finished what you set out to do in your writing project, submitted it, and caused someone to respond. You did your job. You created something. One day, the response will be different but that is their business. Now I have to quit writing about your damn blog and get back to my homework vortex of suck! 🙂

  2. I agree. Set a goal to receive at least 100 rejection letters before you get one published. Then you can’t even be sad if you don’t meet that goal…unless of course you don’t meet it because you gave up and stopped sending them in. SOOOO….keep writing- when and what you want and say “to hell with the deadline, I have this damn blog to write” and feel okay about it.

  3. Sean says:

    I have lots of ideas for stories, characters, scenes, and whatnot. I just have no way in my brain to actually make them all a cohesive whole since they have nothing to do with each other. I only have ideas, not fully fleshed out stories. I think I would work better collaborating with someone than doing something on my own.

    I do appreciate you pushing me to try it, but I am just too exhausted to really try it this year. Too bad it is not earlier in the year when retail slaves are not bogged down with holiday bullshit.

    Good luck breaking the writer’s block though.

  4. Wendy Goldstein says:

    The number of words you write is not important.
    Try some free writing. Just babble through your fingers for a while.

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