NaNoWriMo & the Lesson of Failure

Originally published on MomsMiami, November 30, 2009.

A bit over a month ago, I decided to take the NaNoWriMo challenge– 50,000 words of fantastical fiction in 30 days. A bit over a month ago, I was curious but really excited. To say I am out of shape writing-wise is a mild understatement, but when it comes to writing fiction I am way out of practice to be perfectly honest. I have never written a major work of any sorts. All fiction I have done has been of the short yet hardly sweet (I gravitate to cynics) story version. It goes with my nature, I’m quite concise and to the point. I hate meandering and dressing sentences up. Here’s a character. Here’s their story. Move on.

This doesn’t work very well when you are trying to write a lot of words every day. In order to make the NaNoWriMo goal, there is a daily quota of 1,667 words. I actually met this quota every day– for ten days. After that, there was derailment of the catastrophic kind. Today, is the official end of NaNoWriMo and my final word count is somewhere in the 25k – 26k word area. And it’s ok.

It turns out that NaNoWriMo has become the latest chapter in the apparent year-long lesson on failing that I seem to have unwillingly enrolled in. Yes, you’re talking to a perfectionist of sorts. But this year has been one apparent shortcoming after another and that’s been pretty tough for this proud lady to take. At times, it’s been downright abusive.

I don’t necessarily believe everything happens for a reason. I believe everything has a reason if you need one. I’m the type of person that needs one. I can accept that maybe not every reason is identified right there on the spot, but eventually you find one. Or perhaps, you find one reason one day and an entirely different reason shows up weeks, months, decades later.

I needed NaNoWriMo to get the writing wheel out of the rut it got itself into. I needed to see that I am indeed very comfortable with words despite the fact these days they are mostly used for rudimentary things. There was another lesson I learned though, one I think might keep coming up. I separated from my husband of five years just five months ago. To pretend this hasn’t been literally life-changing is ludicrous. It’s only been in the past few months that I’ve started to feel comfortable in my own shell again, that I’ve felt good living my life versus our life. Right now, that’s Priority One– Rebuild. Everything else will just have to be patient.


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