In which I take a month’s inventory
November is National Novel Writing Month, as the US-based organization attempting to bully us into drafting 50,000 words would have us believe. I’ll mention it in passing to non-Americans who look at me as if I’ve just thrown in a dialect word, and, in a way, I have.
I’ve never done the NaNoWriMo challenge in its pure form. I may someday, although I don’t feel in any rush. I do try to take the moment to recommit to my writing goals and priorities: for me it’s more of a NaReVaStaShoProMo (National Resume Various Stalled Shorter Projects Month). I have friends who use their own blogs to meticulously track their efforts, and seriously, all the power to them. So far that has not been me. I get the sense it is not a lot of people, and that they think they might as well give up if their work doesn’t fit into a quantifiable framework of success.
But not cranking out 50,000 words, either on one project or across several, is hardly synonymous with having made no creative strides. As a case in point, here is a rundown of November events in my corner of the writerverse.
- A flash fiction piece included in an anthology
- Two (out of three submitted) poems accepted into the debut anthology of a small press, both of which I wrote a number of years ago
- A rejection letter regarding a short story that, despite its failure to make the journal, was “the source of much conversation among the editors,” and the fact that they enjoyed my writing enough to tell me
- A couple other such rejections, really encouraging with their genuine praise and letting me know—to paraphrase somebody—that sometimes, instead of getting the outcome you want, you get the outcome you need
- (Regarding the previous two points, I have generally regarded fiction as my weakest genre, so to hear this feedback about my short stories meant a little extra to me)
- A playwriting workshop that introduced me to yet another community of aspiring local writers in a genre we all want to learn more about, and that has already pushed me out of my comfort zone in my approach to character and story arc
A writer’s work is never done, no matter their successes. And progress is progress, no matter how humble it looks. Whatever you’re working on right now, of any sort—a quilt, a spreadsheet, a model airplane, a novel you started reading ages ago that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand—keep going!