I'm (Fabulously) a Failure for 5 Reasons

Thursday, November 16, 2017
          Yes, I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year. I'm also planning on failing at it. It's a 100% guarantee that I'll be a loser, and that's just fine with me.

        Why am I okay failing at this challenge? Well, I have several reasons.

1. This challenge gets me out of my comfort zone. Normally I write creative nonfiction. Short memoir stuff that averages 1,200 words. A book-length piece is not my usual. NaNo pushes me to become a long-distance runner instead of sprinter... at least for this month.

2. I get to write surrounded by my students--4th-8th graders--and as I tap away and stare off into space and delete lines, I'm modeling what a writer does. Most of them are sailing along and meeting their word count goal. They share their word count with me, and ask about mine. Even though I'm pathetically behind the almost-2,000 words per day I need to get down, I don't stop. I share my low numbers, and I keep on creeping along. (Young writers--lucky them--have a smaller word goal. They actually get to set their own goal.)

3. So far (at the moment this post was published) I have 14,099 words. If I hadn't started NaNo on November 1st, I'd have 0 words down on this project. 

4. At the end of October when I was trying to figure out what in the world I was going to write about, I struggled. I considered a couple of ideas. When November 1st rolled around, I began the story from a teacher's perspective. (It's historical fiction, a kind of fictional mash-up between 1955 and 2017.) 

It was all wrong. After a day of writing, I realized it. I scrapped what I wrote and started anew. Now I'm telling the story from one of my students' viewpoint, and it feels right. And that's what writers do, especially if they have a deadline. They stumble. They revise. They change directions. They "make it work" as Tim Gunn says.

5. If I "win" at NaNoWriMo, I'll get 50,000 words down on paper. However, I'm writing a book slated for middle-grade readers. Most of those books are 20,000-30,000 words in length, so I know by the time I get to the end of my manuscript, the 50,000-word finish line will still be too far ahead for me to see. That's fine. If I manage to finish the first draft in a month  in a couple of months by the twelfth of never, I'll be thrilled. Really.

       So, perhaps you're not doing NaNoWriMo. November's short, there's Thanksgiving, the word count goal is crazy-big--I get it. I understand. However, maybe you might come up with your own month-long (or summer-long, or year-long) challenge. Set it up. Make it your own. And make it public and post your progress. (Your writing friends can prod you along if they know about it.)

       Hi. I'm Sioux, and I'm a failure. And I'm totally cool with that...

Sioux is too busy working on her NaNoWriMo project right now to write a clever bio. If you're interested, check out her writer/dog rescue/teacher blog.


Angela Mackintosh said...

Sioux, you are a champion for doing NaNo! 14k is amazing. I'm not doing NaNo and I've barely written 2k this month, so you are a winner in my book. I think it's very cool that you're writing with your students! And you're using them as inspiration. Keep going! I'll be cheering you on. Thank you for sharing your progress! :)

Renee Roberson said...

You're doing great, Sioux! I love that your students are participating in their own challenge. I'm a fabulous failure in publishing. I complete projects and then stop short just when it's time to seek publication. One of these days I'll go to therapy to figure that one out :-)

Margo Dill said...

I've always had that same attitude about NaNo. I have never completed 50,000 words, but whenever I've done it, I've gotten more done on a manuscript than ever before. Sadly, this year I did not attempt, but maybe you should post something like this for all of us in October next year, and then I will remember--yes, Sioux, is right. Let's do it. ;)

(No pressure. My NaNo fate just rests in your hands.)

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yeah, you already know I'm not about the word count with Nano. But the impetus to get one writing beyond one's comfort zone? You can't write enough words to praise that!

Go, Sioux!

Linda O'Connell said...

You're not a failure if your work is incomplete. NOT starting it would make you a failure. Be proud of what you have written and especially of how you are impacting young lives...future writers.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Ladies--Thanks so much for your encouraging words. I hope you all know--along with a bunch of other writers across the country (and even one in India and one in France)--that YOU inspire me. You keep me writing and revising and submitting.

Mary Horner said...

Love this! I'm a failure because I'm always going to do it NEXT year!!! lol!!!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Mary--There is nothing magic about November. Choose another month. Choose a month where you have the time to write. Set a daily word count or a monthly one... and write. (However many words you get down will make you winner.)

Having that inkling or idea, year after year means you're getting closer and closer to doing it. (At least that's what I contend, when I keep procrastinating and saying I'll start it/do it later. ;)

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