Easing up

Yesterday I had a down day, and this in spite of it snowing, which I love. (The dog loves it, too – having snow thrown on her is one of her favourite things, and she’d play that game until hypothermia set in if I didn’t keep an eye on her!)

I felt I was failing at several things. I’m not up to word count on NaNoWriMo, and I’m getting bored with this novel. I really want to think about the next draft of my YA novel, and about another story in the same world. I’d designed a Christmas card, but it was going to take me for freakin’ ever to make them. I wanted to change my mind on both these things and do something more fun.

And after several months of training – actually, about six months – my dog has still not unlearned the habit of begging. She got this habit from the hairdressers next door to where we used to have the pet store. The ladies adored her, and they would feed her bits of their lunch while she sat there staring attentively at them. She knows I won’t give her anything if she begs, and I know David doesn’t do it, either, but I have no idea how long she was successful at begging. It takes time. Yesterday I was feeling discouraged.

I confessed all my failures to David, just wanting to get them off my chest.

“You’re not failing,” he said. “First, you can’t fail at NaNoWriMo. The point is to get you to write.”
“You can fail to meet the goal,” I said.
“So? You’ve already written a novel this fall. Cut yourself some slack. Second, just make a different Christmas card. How about cardinals? The cardinal pop-up is really nice.”
“I did a bird last year. It feels like cheating.”
“Most people just go out and buy a box of cards, okay? It’s not cheating to do the cardinal. If it’s not fun, why bother doing it? You only do the cards because you enjoy them. And you’re not failing with the dog. She’s smart – she knows it worked before, and she’s going to push it. You’ll get her retrained. It just takes time.”

So I’m cutting myself some slack. I’m quitting NaNoWriMo and going on to something else I want to do instead. I’m making a different Christmas card, most likely the cardinal. Maybe I’ll do some bluejays, too. Or a Green Man.

As for the dog – persistence and consistency. I’ve said for several years that those are the only two things you need to train a dog. Sky, too, is persistent. Begging worked for her, probably for months. She can’t believe that it won’t work again. But we’ll get there.

I’ve accomplished a lot this fall, and this year. Maybe I do just need to cut myself some slack. I have some flash fiction and short story ideas I want to pursue. I’ll put the novel aside for now and do those.

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5 Responses to Easing up

  1. Bluebethley says:

    Dear Elizabeth, Why not write a character sketch, or a letter to your character, or describe a nightmare your character had? Call 500 words good for NaNo and then move on to those other, more enticing projects? While those 1,667 words a day can be intimidating (especially because we want them to be GOOD words), participating in NaNo has helped me loosen up — even when I’m not making the daily goal. Yes, I’m not happy with everything I’ve written, but there are gems, not the least being a chance to face down who my characters are, what they want, and why they are in my life. Your blog posts are endearing and encouraging so much of the time, and your husband sounds inspirational. Keep writing and creating with joy!

  2. ecreith says:

    Aw, thanks, Beth! That’s a brilliant idea – I can do that! And you’re right, we want those words to be good words, worth keeping, but maybe they can’t all be.

    You’ve raised my spirits – thank you!

  3. Janet says:

    Elizabeth,
    I have fallen so far behind in NaNoWriMo that even if I wrote non-stop for the next week I couldn’t catch up. Your husband is correct-the idea is to write.
    I started working on a short story in lieu of my novel, then came back to the novel. I’ve had numerous physical therapy sessions, doctor’s appointments, issues with my parents, and LIFE. I knew going into November I would not meet the goal-but I did it anyway. Enjoy your successes and the snow. Your dog will surprise you and your Christmas cards will be amazing! take care, Janet

  4. Thanks, Janet! Such good advice – see, I just need a little perspective, and sometimes the best place to get that is from someone else’s viewpoint.

  5. lucinda Kempe says:

    Good for you EC! For listening to your instincts and stopping. Cut yourself some slack, indeed. You are incredibly productive and a fine writer who writes intelligent quality work. I remember reading in Stephen Kings On Writing – that two thousand words a day was his recommendation. I couldn’t do it. He can. I suspect Ms. Oates can. I don’t think its failing to stop. It’s knowing your limits and following your heart.

    I’m in a book club. Something new. And, I’m not enjoying the readings. One was a historical pot boiler, badly written and the latest was about memory loss and music [DRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY]. Well, the first one, I read four thousand words and stopped. I didn’t need to read more. The second book, I read the chapters that interested me. The hostess said I’m a quitter, but really I’m not. I just know what I like and to read something I don’t is sheer torture cause there are so many incredible writings available to read. I may drop the book club because honestly I’d rather be writing, reading my book choices and reviewing other writer’s work at Z, then reading things that someone else insists I have to read in entirety to understand. Oh, boy am I sounding Snoot? Guess so?

    I love words, books, reading and writing and I don’t want to do anything that tampers with That. The book club may have to go. My point is don’t let anything get in the way of the Joy, even writing!

    Enough blather from me. I love ya!
    Lucinda

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