Failure = OK, Quitting = Death Knell
The title is as much a reminder to myself as to others struggling through their manuscripts right now. I discussed the idea over coffee with my friend the other night and also received another admonishment from Chuck Wendig.
It’s OK to fail. It’s NOT OK to quit.
Afte working many hours at the day job, not to mention my wife’s birthday yesterday and Thanksgiving prep, I’ve been a bit down in the dumps about my sudden decline in output. I’ve totaled ~400 words in the past three days.
I can safely say that this novel is going to fail to live up to my expectations. That thought began to form after about the first 5000 words and I’m strangely okay with it. I accept that this bit of writing I’ve done will barely resemble anything we think of as a novel. It’s just a haphazard mess of scenes that loosely tie together with a timeline that’s all out of whack, characters that lack any depth and a dearth of pertinent conflict. It doesn’t know when it wants to be historically accurate and when it wants to take liberties.
For me, the key is to turn this whole exercise into a lesson. And to do that, I need to finish. When I type the last word of what I declare to be The End, I need to ask myself one question:
“Why did this fail to be a novel?”
How I answer that will direct my focus for the next attempt. In fact, I’m pretty sure I just provided a few of those answers a couple paragraphs ago. But I will take it upon myself to make sure I am actively addressing those issues in the next novel.
In the meantime, one brick at a time.
As I said to my good friend Oliver yesterday, I just need to finish my rough draft. If that happens in December, so be it. But I need to finish. You do too. We owe it to ourselves. We can’t improve if we don’t practice.