Who did you help, and who helped you?
I've done a number of things in this past year, but to answer this question, I'd like to talk about something I didn't do. On November 14, 2010, in the thick of a NaNoWriMo that seemed to be dying a slow, ugly death, I said this:
This NaNaWriMo is just not going anywhere. Every scene seems bolted onto a overall plot too thin to support it. Seems like a waste of time to throw more effort at it.In response, Catherine Russell, Janet Aldrich, Laura Eno and Claudia Osmond all rallied to encourage and support. However, two other friends need special acknowledgment.
Carrie Clevenger, in a brilliant channeling of a drill sergeant, said: Writing for love is child's play. This is war. you against that blank page. That's all I'm saying. It's only a waste of time if you quit this far in. Tough stuff, but it's what I needed to hear.
Then, Shirley Jo Eaves did something even more extraordinary. To help me, she let me know how I'd helped her:
Tony, You don't know me. But somehow or another I stumbled upon your blog and you absolutely inspired me to write more. I read where you had written over 200,000 words, (at the time) and I started tracking the number of words I had written.... I like reading your flash fiction. I think I would like you if I got to know you. What I'm saying is, you inspired me. I think you owe it to your readers, and to others you may inspire to see this thing through. Partly because of you, and because of other great writers out there, I'm doing my first Nano. And believe me, you haven't seen bad until you read my first draft. But I'm learning things about myself by doing it. If nothing else, I'm learning about persistence and the ability to push through to the end. Please keep going! You never know who you may be inspiring to do the same thing, if not this year, then maybe the next.This was, and remains, humbling for me to hear. Humbling, and yes, inspiring. Despite a schedule which shouldn't have allowed me to do it, and which put me 7,000 words behind with 11 hours left before the deadline on November 30, I did it anyway and finished the 50,000 word draft to win NaNoWriMo. I didn't quit.
I did it for my friends, I did it for myself, and I did it for the book. My NaNo is now my WIP, and the subject of my ongoing editing efforts. It's a mucky mess, but even with this first pass of corrective editing, the book is getting worlds better, expanding in complexity and depth, improving in logic and flow, sharpening in language and focus. If I'd given up back on November 14, 2010, I'd have nothing.
Any one of the people I've mentioned above are great people to follow on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else you might happen to come across them. To take Sage Cohen's question backwards, through my openness about my struggles with this book and with previous efforts, I was helped in my writing and I have helped others write. How about you? Who did you help, and who helped you?
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