Bathrooms, yes. Novels, no.

My post over at Write Anything was written back on October 18. That's how it works, in case you didn't know: the staff of writers have a deadline of the 22nd of each month to turn in a blog post for the following month. I turned November's in a bit early, but I just turned December's in today (the 22nd).

You're probably saying, "So what? I never read your Write Anything blog posts anyway, so why should I care?" Well, this month's was about NaNoWriMo, and why I'm not doing it this year.
I made the firm commitment not to participate this year. My current WIP, “Goodbye Grammarian”, is way behind schedule; I need to make the rewrites a priority. Attentive readers will recall that this was my NaNoWriMo 2010 winning project; inattentive readers can learn more about that below. I’ve been editing it off and on for a year, although obviously it’s been more “off” than “on”. So, with regrets, I’ve decided that it’s better for me  to devote my time and energy this November to a focused effort at finishing the editing of this book, rather than starting a fresh one.
Sadly, it's not been happening in November, either. While I've made some progress on "Goodbye Grammarian", it's not even close to being finished. I've been spending all of my time in evenings and weekends attending to real life demands and working on remodeling two bathrooms simultaneously.

NaNoWriMo demands a daily commitment of time and energy. Whether you want to or not, you MUST get those 1700 words done. I know, because I've done it. Sometimes it was fun, sometimes it wasn't, but I did it. This year, I told myself that I would devote that same energy to "Goodbye Grammarian". I would edit and rewrite 1700 words a day, bringing my WIP to a solid second draft of 90,000 words.

That's what I told myself, but my time and energy and commitments have perforce been elsewhere. The blog posts have been regular and the stories have variously been posted here and sent off to publications elsewhere, but my novel? Ah, yes, my novel...

As of right now, the Grammarian is still in Chapter 7, still leaving the scene of a kidnapping, ready to get onto his high-tech motorcycle to continue his investigations elsewhere, still stopped when a deafening explosion from the building opposite sent a massive fireball rolling into the sky, showering the street below with a crystalline rain of glass fragments. For days, weeks even, he's been right there, frozen, waiting for me to send him racing up the side of the building to investigate. Waiting for me to have him plunge into the flames and smoke, ready to rescue the innocent and apprehend the guilty.


I opened up to that paragraph today and stared for ten minutes at it. Nothing. No energy, no drive, nothing. I'm just unable to string it together. I keep thinking about the wiring, plumbing & tiling I've finished, and the carpentry, wiring, plumbing and tiling I still have to do. I'm so distracted and so tired, I can't focus on this book.

Besides, who cares, anyway? Is anybody ever going to read this thing? Obviously, NOBODY will if I never finish it, but does the world really need another "superhero wrestles with supervillain vengeance and romantic attraction" book? I just question the whole thing, and if I'm questioning it, doesn't that mean it's probably not worth a good goddamn?

According to Chuck Wendig, this hesitancy and lack of progress would, no doubt, make me a fucking fuck-monkey of fuckilicious fart-shit-fuckitude fuckery, and he'd list 25 Ways In Which I Suck. Alan Baxter would probably take this as more evidence that NaNoWriMo is a loser activity for delusional amateurs. John Scalzi would probably just call me a dick via multiple websites that get in excess of a million hits a month, and be thankful he's not me. Stephen King would roll his eyes and knock out another 125,000 word best seller before I could spellcheck this blog post. Susan Orlean, Neil Gaiman and Salman Rushdie would (I hope) merely sigh in pity at the train wreck and go on to write something fascinating and witty and profound.

I'm guessing that none of them would vent their frustration in a whiny blog post. They would have written another chapter and gotten on with it. Because, as we all recognize, they are real writers.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. And you prove… what? you're human? I'm so distracted and so tired, I can't focus on this book. Stephen King et al can afford to get someone else to do the tiling — but I'll bet none of them could write as authentic a scene about someone tiling a floor as you can now. You've been in a funk lately. I wish I knew you better, because I can't currently give you much advice without sounding pompous or condescending.

    I'm stuck in the middle of the White Pickups sequel, and I don't have the (perfectly valid) excuse of remodeling two bathrooms. I know what's coming next, but I can't seem to get it out of my head and into a scene. At least you're subbing out short stories, that's more than I'm doing. OK, I am prepping a short story for release, but that's as much a dry run for the White Pickups rollout as anything.

    Writers write, yeah. But even a "whiny blog post" is writing — and it can even be the precursor to the writing you want to get done. One evening, I started writing about the blank page mocking me and managed to transition that into something worth keeping. Only a few hundred words, but it was progress.

    Hey… by the New Year, you'll have the bathrooms done, the holidays will be behind you, and things will ease up a little. Be the boulder in the creek, let the water rush around you until the storm lifts.

  2. I don't like being human, with human frailties and limitations. I should be able to do everything, everywhere, all the time, without suffering fatigue, burnout or loss of concentration. If Mr. Spock, Bruce Wayne and Reed Richards can do it, why can't I?

    Irrational lunacy aside, I have been in a funk lately, and it's not just being overwhelmed with work. It's the change of the seasons that's making me overwhelmed. I feel so lethargic and unmotivated that stuff which I should be taking care of as it comes up is instead piling up. Why I never recognize this pattern in myself, I don't know, but every fall, I slip into a depressive slowdown, a desire for nothing more than a cave to curl up in and a heavy door to block out the rest of the world. The fact that I'm able to do everything I have to for my job, family and social obligations, then do these bathrooms *and* maintain at least a trickle of writing is, I suppose, enough to keep me from the realm of pure suckitude.

    Starting tomorrow morning, I'm going to do some light therapy on a consistent, daily basis. It's helped in the past.

  3. Understood. I have to be careful this time of year too, lest life sneak up behind me and cold-cock me with the S.A.D. bat. Just knowing it's a possibility can help a lot, but I have to be aware of it.

  4. Yeah, it's the gray that gets me too.

    The funk happens. Know you are not alone. I've been funked up since the end of summer, and still feeling quasi-funky.

    It happens. I'm doing Nano and just broke the 20k barrier. And that's okay. Really.

    Hang in there. Enjoy your family and friends. Do the light therapy -- and try yoga. It has helped me tremendously with the anxiety and the ennui. Not to mention I can move my joints. Peace...

  5. I think we all need to form a Funked Up Club and once a week we could decide who is the most Funked Up and let them claim the floor.


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