If you read my blog, you’ll know I’ve been so excited about doing the NaNoWriMo challenge this year. I’ve been thinking about what novel to tackle and of new ideas all year long. I’ve also been reading and learning as much as I could about writing, so that my draft from NaNo could be more complete, with more direction than the two from the previous years – two novels that I still want to finish, but that need so much restructuring, they basically need to be re-written.
I thought about an exciting new idea in July while doing camp NaNo. There were enough months from July until the 1st of November for me to plan for the novel, but four things happened:
1.- I was working since January on my book, The Water Thief, and I had committed myself to finishing the first draft by the end of October, which in combination with my day work, didn’t leave me much time to get the planning done in time for November.
Side note: I did finish my draft and I have already begun the editing. I’m hoping to get the book to the market some time by the end of Winter or beginning of spring, so stay tuned!
2.- The idea of giving it another try with one of my previous NaNo works tempted me quite a lot, so combined with point number 1, I gave in and, as NaNo started, I begun the task of re-writing my previous year’s NaNo project. Because I had already blundered it once. This time as I wrote, I was more careful with my words, and this made letting the words flow as a challenge like NaNo needs, wasn’t easy. I got stuck with my inner editor doing its best to slow me down so that this time I actually have a direction.
3.- Because of travel for work, work itself, Thanksgiving, and visiting family in Texas and friends in NY, finding time to write in November was really hard this year. I could have gotten up earlier, or stayed up late, to write but then point 4 happened.
4.- I was simply really, really, really tired. This year has been great and awful, incredibly productive and stressful as hell. I finished a novel; earned –not one, but three – writing certifications; worked my ass off all summer in the field; finished all my data collection and lab work for my PhD; helped teach a class; mentored two students, took three classes, and I’m about to finish preparing the first draft of a scientific paper. And this while battling depression and anxiety. My batteries were running out, and the year is still not over. There are a few weeks left.
So, with all this, I had to come to the painful decision to lose the NaNo challenge this year. I didn’t have the energy to do all the other things I needed to do, and also do NaNo. I did write about 28000 words, so not bad at all. I got to more than halfway through! And as soon as I finish editing The Water Thief, I’ll restart with the one I didn’t finish this November.
Any other year, I would have gone on, despite it all, too afraid of failing, of admitting to myself, or others, that I had taken on too much, and of not being able to do what I had said I would do. You know, the typical “what would others think that I failed?” question that chokes all of us high-performing anxious people. I couldn’t admit to myself that it is all right if I fail at something.
But this fear is something I’m working on, and I like to call myself a perfectionist on recovery. So, I took a hard look at myself, at all I had accomplished this year, and realized I couldn’t ask myself for more.
And for the first time, I decided to “fail”. And I feel great!
Best of all, I don’t feel discouraged to keep going. So many other times, I had this attitude of all-or-nothing with things I’ve wanted to do –thanks to the people who have pointed it out to me over the years –, and when I couldn’t do something the way I thought I should be doing it, I stopped and gave up. Not this time. This time, I actually paid attention to what others were saying.
Now, I’m even more excited about going on with my writing and my editing. I just needed to rest, and not writing for the second part of November was exactly what I needed. I also managed to be alright with failing at something, which is definitely a first for me!
So, all I can say is, this time, losing feels like winning for me.