This story comes from my collection, She’s Tired of Going Nowhere. It’s part of a mini-cycle within the collection about a group of women who’ve died because of patriarchal/capitalist violence and what they make of the afterlife. This particular one is not super uplifting, but it’s not meant to be, because not all victims of violence—whether straight up physical violence or the kind of environmental violence I tackle in “Lonely Weather”—get happy endings.
Monday through Thursday I wrote at least 800 words each day. Friday I went to a coffee shop after work to write, but foolishly left the rough draft of my novel at home. My partner had homework to do, so I busied myself with submissions instead of writing. I’m trying to stick to a regular sleep schedule, so I went to bed when we got home instead of staying up too late.
Saturday the endometriosis pain returned, so I didn’t do anything except watch documentaries on Netflix. (To be fair one of those documentaries was a literal autopsy of a dead person, so it was definitely useful for my writing.) Sunday I was still in pain and had a serious case of brain fog, so I only wrote about 200 words. Yesterday I wrote about 1,500 words, so ultimately I’m not too far behind where I should be to hit my 25,000 word goal.
I’m finding that holding myself to 800 words a day does feel somewhat like a stretch, but it’s a doable stretch that leaves me feeling accomplished for the rest of the day. (And that’s not including other writing projects, like this blog and the Tuesday Night Monologue Project!) If things keep going well, I may try to up my daily word count to 1,000 words a day.
I’ve mostly been writing early in the morning from home, but I’ve also written from my coworking space, especially on days I need coffee (like yesterday).
So for now I carry on, and we’ll see how this next week goes!
If you want to be a writer, you have to be comfortable with failure. Failure isn’t bad, though. It (hopefully) means you’re learning and growing. But more importantly, failure means you’re trying.
I’ve been participating in National Novel Writing Month since 2007, and Camp NaNoWriMo since it began around 2010. The goal for NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. For Camp NaNo, you can set your own goal. Out of the 11 years I’ve done NaNo, I’ve only succeeded twice. That’s an 18 percent success rate, which is preeeeeetty bad. For Camp NaNo, my success rate is in the same ballpark, even with being able to set my own goal.
And yet every April, July, and November, I throw my hat in the ring, not caring too much if I “win.” My goal is rarely to complete a project; it’s usually something along the lines of “get my butt back in gear” or “for goddess’s sake get SOMETHING, ANYTHING written.” My goal, in other words, is to fail better.
In 2017, I heard from several literary agents who enjoyed my short story collection but wanted to know if I had a novel. This did not surprise me (the novel part; I’m always surprised when someone likes my writing), but it did light a fire under my ass to finish revising the novel I’ve been working on since grad school. I’ve been through many, many drafts and while I know this absolutely not be the final draft, I’m hoping it’s maybe the third-to-last draft.
Even though the novel itself is cooperating beautifully (probably because of all the previous drafts), I’ve been struggling to stay on track with my (self-imposed) revision goals. I wanted to revise 13,000 words a month, but I have yet to hit that target. Like, at all. I really don’t want to be writing this novel for the next ten years, so enter Camp NaNoWriMo.
By and large, I’m content with steady progress, even if it’s always slower than I wish (I want it to be done RIGHT NOW, DAMMIT). Unfortunately, my progress has been less than steady. It’s come in fits and starts, and there are huge blank swathes of time on my progress tracker (a Google Docs spreadsheet). Since I know I’m unlikely to hit 50,000 words this month, and because this isn’t a shitty first draft, I set my goal at 25,000 words revised for the month, which equals 800-850 words a day. It’s higher than my normal word count goal but still doable in less than an hour, and will count for 2 months of revision to help me “catch up” to where I want to be.
Who knows? If this Camp goes well, perhaps I’ll stick to the 800 words a day goal and finish revising earlier than expected! (Hah. Yeah right.) But even if I don’t hit 25,000 words, I’ve already got more than 3,000, and it’s only day four. I’m already ahead of my progress for March. And so I write on, and hope to fail better.