About one year ago today, I had completed NaNoWriMo – with a manuscript I have yet to re-visit – and was spending December writing and drawing a graphic novel.
Today, I can confirm that this year I did not complete NaNoWriMo. I said at the outset it would be a long shot. Technically I wasn’t doing it properly anyway; I was writing non-fiction about 12 books in 12 months, whilst NaNo is supposed to be fiction and something new. However, although I didn’t ‘win’, I made a 46,379 word dent in the thing. Some of those words were from this blog though, copied and pasted to remind myself to include stuff I might otherwise forget, so that’s probably not a very fair reflection of the amount I actually wrote in November.
As I reflect on this and the 12 books experience in general, now from a distance, I find myself OK with that. There were a few days when the NaNo frenzy gripped me and I wanted to write and write, but non fiction needs structure and thought, so these moods couldn’t last long. But y’know, it’s OK not to meet self imposed deadlines sometimes.
For instance, I had originally told myself that by the end of 2012 I’d have two or three of the 12 books completed. I haven’t, and won’t do now, because that was stupid. You cannot edit at the same rate as you draft, nor should you. I have come to terms with this failure, I have moved on, and so should you. Focus on the positives, or the weight of twelve unfinished manuscripts will claw at you until the only thing left is the makings of an unconventional stock.
(I don’t mean that literally, guys, OK, it’s a metaphor. Think of the twelve unfinished manuscripts as whatever goal you had for 2012 that was totally unrealistic.)
So, the positives. This year I’ve got one book re-drafted and two more manuscripts almost drafted too. I’ve edited a book of short stories to raise money for a theatre company and interrailed around Eastern Europe. I’ve had four different jobs, two of which were even relevant to my career aspirations. I’ve had a couple of short stories accepted to performance events, and one featured in a book by a lady in Troon. And possibly most exciting for me, I’ve read a whole bunch of stuff by other people, which has helped me to step back, examine my own stuff, and learn from my mistakes.
This isn’t failure, this is allowing myself time to become a better writer. And if that sounds twee or self indulgent then good, it should – writers have ridiculous egos on them.