Monday, December 10, 2012

Pulling Myself Up by the Bootstraps

I have great admiration for my writer friends who participate in NaNoWriMo. For those of you not in the writing world, the acronym stands for: National Novel Writing Month. Scores of people commit to writing the first draft of a full-length novel from November 1st to November 30th. Many succeed. Many (me included) spend the first half of the months thinking about it and then decide it’s too late. The following post gives you a glimpse into the life of my friend and frequent contributor to this blog, Cheryl Dale, who describes her November experience. News flash. Cheryl, just reading about your month made me tired! Please feel free to snooze by the fire, guilt-free.

Here’s what I discovered in the month of November. There are limits to what I can accomplish. I am a chronic over-committer, over-achiever, over-estimator and over-just about everything else.
This past month it came to a head. Here’s what I had on my plate:
  Full time plus job (and it’s open enrollment which means a steady parade of employees in my HR office, a plethora of paperwork, and a million questions to answer)
  My commitment to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
  Thanksgiving with all the pie baking, etc.
  My birthday with lunches and meeting friends over coffee and family stuff.
  Weekly practices with the Christmas choir.
  Writing of the Christmas pageant.
  Early Christmas shopping (I did black Friday!!!)
  All my regular scheduled meetings, bible studies and worship activities.
  Friends in crisis.
  And – well – the rest I can’t remember because I am too tired. 
I think I’m getting old. My body doesn’t hold up as well as it used to and I hate to admit this but I get tired sometimes. There is nothing that gets my dander up more than sitting down in my chair by the fire and falling asleep immediately. I need some kind of device that sends an electric shock through my body the second my head nods.
Everything on my list is something I want to do, enjoy and never want to give up. Not only that, but there are even more things that I’d like to get involved in but to do them I’d have to give up sleeping all together.  It seems the days get shorter and what used to be plenty of time seems to have become never enough time.
Looking back my great regret is that I did not finish the novel.  I did get ten chapters and 20,000 words written.  I wrote from 4:00 a.m. until 5:00 a.m. almost every morning. I squeezed a few more minutes in here and there. I jotted handwritten notes in grocery lines and on my lunch breaks to transcribe later. But I just couldn’t get there. I feel bad about it because I seldom let myself fail to do what I’ve set my mind on.
So I’m using this blog to give myself a pep talk.
  I didn’t finish but at least I started and it’s a really good start.
  My novel is shaping up to be a good one.
  I discovered that I can shake the cobwebs from my brain even earlier than usual (I usually don’t get up until 4:30 a.m. and then I spend fifteen or twenty minutes sipping coffee and letting my brain coast.)
  The world does not end when you admit that you failed.
  Life is too short to beat yourself up.
  When I look at my list, the novel is the only thing I did not accomplish so that in itself is a pat on the back, right?
Writing is hard work. Work is hard work. Having fun is hard work. Ministry is hard work. Anything that you are committed to doing well is hard work.
There, I feel better.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.1 Cor 10:31


  1. Hi Cheryl
    It sounds like you did write (nearly) daily and have 20k words into a new story, so that's a huge accomplishment!
    Three wonderful women dragged me through NaNo, with daily check-ins and huge encouragement. They hit the 50k mark - I ended up at 48k but could not bring myself to scribble rubbish in order to cross the threshold.
    Glad I did it? Yep
    Looking forward to untangling the hot mess of those 48k words? Nope
    So maybe your 20k words that you're happy with isn't such a bad deal.
    Merry Christmas :)

    1. 48k! Wow - I'm jealous. I am still working on the novel and have added a couple of chapters. And, I like it, I think it's good and I think it's marketable. So no wasted time for sure.

  2. Every new word is one you didn't have before, so that is a total WIN in my book! :)


    1. thank you! Amazing how encouragement is like fuel on a dying ember. I am still working on my novel and making good progress without quite the pressure of NaNoWriMo.

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  3. Kudos to both of you, Cheryl and Cathy! At least you gave it a go.
    (Hides head in shame)

    1. Of course it's not like you had anything else going on Marilee, with the new book racing to the publishing deadline. Can't wait to read it.