NaNo Day Thirteen: On Failure

We’re not even halfway through—but we’re already talking about the possibility of failure? You betcha.

Yesterday was a tough day—the second one, this month, that I managed to write less than the suggested daily minimum. Work was demanding, the pets showed signs of cabin fever due to the shitty weather we’ve been having and, in the end, I fell asleep at the screen, twice.

I was, also, at the tail end of a slower part of the story, which feeds into my heroine’s grand entrance at the party where most of the novel takes place, down the magnificent staircase lined with gilded statues (I should know, because I’ve got that part already done). And this part is so slow and there’s no physical action (got that scene started already, too) and they’re just talking and we already know that anything of actual importance will happen after this part is done.

Which got me thinking. What if that’s it? What if this part of the novel will kill the novel itself, and drag me down with it? What if (and we’ve touched upon that part a bit earlier) this is it it, that’s the best I can do, that’s the end, and I’ll never write anything better again? (Not to mention anything finished, right?)

Oh, there’s nothing better than letting your fatigue get the better of you.

Luckily, today’s going better already, and I can look back at yesterday’s panic and see what it really is: a necessary evil. And all it takes to type on through it is to remember that one bad day is not a failure. One bad month is not a failure, either—I should know, I’ve had about 24 of them up until this spring. What’s more important, one bad book is by no means a failure—but let us not go into why I can say that.

On the other hand, one of the trickest part about failure is that the feeling—yes, more often than not it’s just a feeling, not a fact—is as personal as it gets. As an illustration, there’s one thing that’s been bugging me for the past few days which is by no means a failure this November, for almost anyone else—the notion that, contrary to my best efforts, I won’t be done with the (first) 50k on November 17th this year, like I’ve done in 2010, like I’ve been racing against myself to do again this year, feeling confident enough to go for it for the first time in while. I won’t do that bad, probably—my beloved stats are currently showing Nov 19th, which means I’ll ‘fail’ just by two days—but, you know. But.

Therefore, this post. Because, if I say I won’t let myself feel like a failure, and I say it in public, I can’t afford to succumb to the feeling, because then I would truly be a failure.

And that’s not acceptable.

Failure is, ultimately, just an excuse to stop writing. And that‘s the most unnaceptable notion of them all.