Awful Is Better Than Nothing

Since the stinkage of my internet knows no bounds, and since I am now officially angry at not only my internet company, but also my computer’s manufacturer, Windows 8.1, and my scanner, I’ve reached the conclusion that this comic may not hit the web this week. It probably won’t hit the web until my husband has a chance to work his magic and make it all suddenly functional. And there’s no telling when that will be.

In the mean time, I figure a Camp NaNo recap is in order and then I’ll have something real to post next week. (Unfortunately, I always come out of NaNo months with my back-up posts supply completely exhausted, so I’m kind of working off the cuff at the moment.)

This year’s session has the distinct honor of being far-and-away the single hardest session of NaNo I have endured since the first. In fact, I’m pretty sure it at least ties with that first attempt five years ago when I had no idea what I was getting into. My final word count was 50,322 and was achieved about two hours before midnight. That’s cutting it mighty close for me. Furthermore, getting those words on paper (or on screen, really) was grueling.

So what made it so difficult this month? And more importantly, what kept me going when I so desperately wanted to throw in the sweaty, rancid towel?


New Genre: I chose to work on a story in an unfamiliar genre. Although I at least dabble in just about every other genre, my long-form writing is almost always fantasy. So choosing to do a full-length novel in contemporary romance, which I’ve only ever approached in short stories before, and have possibly never actually read, was a definite hurdle for me.

Illness: I can’t really blame myself for this one. I just was sick a lot and the medication I have for nausea knocks me out for nine hours after a dose. It’s hard to write while throwing up. It’s harder to write while unconscious.

Head-Not-In-Gameness: I can totally blame myself for this one. This month was just a difficult one to focus through. I wasn’t totally sure about the story, I didn’t have it outlined, and I just had a hard time buckling down and writing the thing. I wanted to do it, but ofttimes, it was more like ‘wanting to do’ the laundry.

Reasons to Keep Going

Good Story: Despite the lack of focus and the chore-like feeling that sometimes accompanied this story, I really did want to work on it. I’d been thinking about it for a while and the premise was solid and I felt like it was the kind of story I’d like to tell my friends about. (You know, after all the glaring holes got patched up.)

Pride: It’s nice to be able to puff up my chest, ruffle my feathers, and tell folks that I’ve never failed a session of NaNo. I didn’t want to lose those bragging rights. So, base as it is, there’s that.

Cabin: My Camp NaNoWriMo cabin this session was absolutely fantastic. Every single person there participated and communicated with one another, which was a first. Everyone was super encouraging when I felt super discouraged. My cabinmates were constantly running sprints with one another, whether in the cabin, on Twitter, or through Google Hangouts (which I’m still mad my internet would never let me do). These folks were super-dee-duper. They cheered me up and straightened me out and only snickered a little bit when I posted something weird while on my meds.

So there you have it. My top secret formula for success. If you have an interesting story to be told, pride in your work, and a solid circle of support, no amount of new territory, illness, or emo doldrums can stop you. The truth is, writing isn’t easy. People who think it’s easy aren’t trying hard enough. But somehow, almost by magic, all the toil and heartache is transformed into something you can be proud of. Something beautiful and worthwhile. So keep at it. Don’t seek perfection. Seek honesty, seek purity, seek uniqueness. The perfection will come later, but not before you wade through the hard stuff.


2 thoughts on “Awful Is Better Than Nothing

  1. For the longest time I flew solo and had no idea what I was missing in a great critique group. Now I’m convinced that connecting with fellow writers is a key to success. Having people who understand what you’re going through and are there when you need encouragement most is absolutely priceless!

    • Definitely. And it’s not the first time writing buddies have saved me. I used to write solo as well and those years were easily the least productive of my life (and unfortunately the most abundant, too, so far).

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