The Confession

November 30th, 2004 · 7 Comments
by Booksquare

We failed.

We started strong, wrote regularly, felt confident, and, despite best intentions, fell prey to the most evil of holidays: the long weekend. It started with a sojourn in the kitchen to cook. Then we drove long hours to the mother’s house. Wherein we supervised such important activities as mashing potatoes (this requires much input and suggestion, not to mention intense debate between the butter and salt people). Then there were more long hours in returning home. One cannot write while negotiating heavy traffic.

Okay, that’s not necessarily true — but we were also dealing with a full moon.

Still, we were on track, but, to our eternal shame, we picked up a book. It was the classic case of justification: we’ll only read a chapter. Then, only one more. Then, some time later, just one more. Before we knew it, a previously half-finished book was finished. But this wasn’t the worst…there was another half-finished book on the coffee table. And it’s time to drag out Christmas decor. A half-finished book would require modifications to our entire holiday plan. There was nothing to do but finish the book. Really, we sought other solutions, but drowning an innocent book seemed wrong.

There is no excuse for our failure to write 50,000 words in a month*. We achieved 40,000, and that, frankly, is somewhat of a miracle. We learned a few lessons:

  • We can only exceed five pages a day when on brain overload. Six should be considered excellent. More, on par with a miracle.
  • We really needed this NaNo project to get us back in a groove.
  • Life has a funny way of getting in the way of life. We need to remember that, in long run, most of the things we consider life or death won’t be remembered in three months. It’s okay not to take them seriously.
  • We can write crap, but cannot misspell words. Probably this means we should learn to type, but more likely it means we should learn to trust spellcheck. Ha! Like that’s ever gonna happen.
  • NaNo should not be held in a month where one is required to spend at least one and half days in a kitchen plus time with relatives. Not to mention commuting.
  • Not writing every day doesn’t mean you’re failing. Because writing is a relative concept. And we can’t all have staff to cater to our every need. Routine is good, but rigdity is bad.
  • Our attempt to achieve our goal reset our brain. We lost our routine when the work thing grew intense. In this past month, we have (re) learned to budget our time. Deadlines are good things.

* – Except for the part where we’re lazy, but that seems so obvious.

File Under: Square Pegs

7 responses so far ↓

  • Brenda Coulter // Dec 1, 2004 at 5:45 am

    May I have a do-over on that post? I hit “send” before my first sip of coffee.

    You’re right that this project should not be undertaken in a month involving a major holiday in which people are compelled to spend great quantities of time cooking, eating, and talking about how much they have cooked and eaten. Also unreasonable is holding this event in a month which has less than 31 days.

    You could’ve done it in October. I know you could’ve.

    Yeah. I’m awake now.

  • Susan Gable // Dec 1, 2004 at 9:53 am

    I don’t think you failed at all. You now have 40,000 words that you didn’t have at the beginning of November. That’s wonderful! So you didn’t hit 50K. You still did great, and got yourself back into the groove, back into the habit of writing and producing, and that’s important.

    I agree that November, with its major holiday, is not the best choice for NaNo. I mean, the turkey alone induces sleeping, not writing. (G)

    Even January would be better. There’s that whole “start the year off right” thing in January, too. And, as Brenda points out, it’s a month with 31 days. Hey, choose a month with the max number of days for this task!

    Well done! I’m proud of your 40,000 words!

  • TEV // Dec 1, 2004 at 11:08 am

    Hear, hear! Well done – not a failure by any stretch. Consider that my ill-fated attempt last year netted me exactly 5,216 words before I tanked. Now that is failure on a grand scale …

  • booksquare // Dec 1, 2004 at 11:10 am

    Yes, of course, why didn’t I see it before? It wasn’t me, it was a prematurely short month. After all, any month with less than 31 days is unfair. And if that month has a four-day weekend plus other holidays, it simply should not count.

    But the good news is I’m back in a routine (do we ever grow up from our kindergarten selves?) and remembering why I was excited about this story to begin with.

  • tvk // Dec 1, 2004 at 12:20 pm

    Pardon me while I go all uber-feminist, but I have to wonder how many men fail at NaNo because they’re stuck in the kitchen for a day and a half, minimum. Had any of the males in MY family participated in NaNo, none would have had this excuse for failure. Tryptophan coma, yes. “Too busy preparing and cleaning up turkey and fixin’s to write?” No way.

    Yeah, as much as I appreciate the whole NaNo set-up, you can tell it was created by a man by how close its deadline falls to a major holiday involving significant domestic effort.

  • Jennifer // Dec 1, 2004 at 2:04 pm

    See, I’ve always thought November was a semi-crappy month for NaNo. Not only is there the Thanksgiving family trauma for four days, holiday season comes next and totally saps your energy to continue writing.
    Why can’t it go back to being during the summer? August is a dull month with no holidays! Or July, perhaps?

  • booksquare // Dec 1, 2004 at 10:00 pm

    It does appear that November is the cruelest month…especially if you’re the one who gets to slave over a hot stove, cold countertop, and lukewarm familial relationships. I totally agree with the energy sapping aspect of the month. It took a full weekend to recover, and this was a relatively low trauma holiday.

    TEV – I wouldn’t call your NaNo experiment a failure. Perhaps more bad timing, if anything. And you’ve had other successes this year, successes that eclipse stalling out at 5200 words.