If I must fail I will do so in public

Today was the First of November, and therefore the first day of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words entirely during the month of November. It’s a somewhat ambitious undertaking and therefore tempting not to talk about it until it’s done for fear that I might announce the project and then not follow through.

But the flip side of that impulse is that not telling anyone what I’m doing gives me an excuse not to follow through. It leaves me without accountability. If I fail I can simply pretend I never started.

Well, today I wrote 2,137 words of my novel. In a project where I need to average 1,667 words per day I’m calling that a good start.

It’s an interesting part of the project. Since I’m writing the second novel of a three-to-five book story arc before I’ve written the first novel, the beginning of the novel involves a lot of exposition, basically laying down some of the backstory. I’m writing a recap of a story I haven’t told yet. It’s very fun because I have to have a lot of the details already worked out.

I have written some of the story of what I hope will be the first book, but only a few fragments. I have a lot outlined and I have a timeline of events going forward and back hundreds of years from the events of this story. Many of the details seem to fill themselves in.

At the close of this day, I’m observing something fantastic. Though I have only started, I have finished the day with a sense that I have accomplished something. This is a sense I haven’t felt in months, perhaps years. Whatever I’ve done has been, I don’t know. Perhaps the way to put it is that I haven’t done my own work since I moved out of my studio; certainly not since I moved out of San Francisco.

I don’t know what will become of this. There are 29 days to go in November and I have no illusions that even at 50,000 words it will be finished. I suspect that even if I get the whole story out it will still need a lot of expansion and fleshing-out. But that’s not what matters. What matters is getting the writing done and seeing if I continue to have this sense of accomplishment.



I think I feel the same way about losing weight. I mean the part about the public statement. Maybe that's part of why Weight Watchers works. I say it with trepidation, but it's time I do the same thing. I've been saying in my head that I'm going to lose weight and hoping that people will notice and I'll feel good about having done it myself. But, as you say, when I fail (and lately it's been when, not if), nobody knows but me and I just feel bad about myself. If I say outloud that I'm going to lose weight, then the failure (or success!) will be public. AND, people who care about me can be supportive. If I go back to Weight Watchers, even people who don't care about me can be supportive. So, here goes. I'm not happy with my weight. I'm going to lose some. (Hmmm, do I have to be specific? Ok, for starters, I'm going to lose 25 pounds. After that, we'll see. More specific than that? I'm NOT going to lose 25 pounds in November! How about I'm going to lose 25 pounds by April 1st.)

I also want to comment more specifically on your project, though. I'm delighted that you're giving this a try! I'm more delighted that you're feeling excited about it and feeling that sense of purpose. Go get 'em!

I'm sure you already know this, but it may be an even bigger challenge to do all that AND do enough of the work that pays the bills to keep on top of both. It won't be easy, but I'm sure you can do it. Because it sound like you want to, and that's -- ok, not half the battle, but a very good place to start.

And, finally, does this mean I should look for you to visit sometime AFTER the end of November?