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Death and the High Cost of Dreaming

Tonight the part of the winning NaNo Artist will be played by . . .

Well, more than a few people I know.

This is the point where the rubber leaves the road and people fly–or, if you’re trying to sprint through twenty-five thousand words to make your goal, more likely a crash and burn.  But it’s The End, more of less.  You open the verifying, put in your document, click OK . . . and it comes back and tells you you’re a Winner!

I’ve been doing very well.  I hit my fifty thousand a week ago.  Tonight I’ll clear sixty-five thousand, and if my numbers aren’t lying to me–since I don’t follow Faux News, I don’t expect “make me happy” math from them–by the time I finish the current chapter, and complete the Coda, I’ll end up with about seventy thousand words of novel goodness.

I feel all beat to hell.

Remember how, like twenty-five days ago, I said that NaNoWriMo was not a sprint, but a marathon?  I feel as if I’ve run one for real.  The body is sore:  there’s been a constant pain in my left shoulder, and at the base of the neck right above that area.  I’m constantly clearing my throat because, for some reason, I don’t feel as if I’m drawing a good breath without something getting in the way.  I’m back to getting to sleep at midnight, and waking up at six or six-thirty.

I’d love to get some rest, but I don’t think I know what that is these days.

There’s been hundreds of reasons why this has been an emotionally draining month as well.  So many things, too much pressure . . .  and the constantly hope that one day I look in my inbox and find a message from Harper Voyager waiting for me, but the fear that, as I approach Day 60 of the Great Sci Fi Cattle Call, it’s not going to come to fruition, and I’ll need to start over.

The distractions I keep falling into are there for a reason:  it’s to keep me from thinking too much about things that aren’t related to writing.

The fear here is that one day I’ll awake and discover that I’m not as good as I believe, that my writing is just drivel, and I’m wasting my time . . .

And then Chuck Wendig shows up and pulps my spleen with a blow that makes Ali smile.

Gotta keep reminding myself that it isn’t about quitting, it’s about failing.  You can recover from failing; you can pick yourself up, dust off your clothes, picked up you hand bag, and head off for the next appointment with possible greatness.  It’s true that you can’t fail if you don’t try, but if you don’t try, you’ll never find out if you’re going to win.

At the beginning of last year’s NaNoWriMo, Jim Butcher published this post on his blog.  For me, NaNo was more of an experiment than anything else.  I’d started novels, but I’d never finished one, and NaNo was more about seeing if I could actually do the later.  I did, by a great margin, but part of the reason was stumbling upon Jim’s post a few days after it was written.

I’ve always been a “kill your dream” sort of person.  I’d get neck-deep into something and say the hell with it, I’ll come back later and deal with it.  And that was it:  death takes another, and probably not the cute Death, either, but that mean old bastard with the sickle.  I didn’t give a shit because that was me, and I was busy thinking about another dream to crush.

There was a quote from W. C. Fields’ that, at that time, gave me all the support I needed for my dream crushing:  “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  Then quit.  No use being a damn fool about it.”  And I thought it was a good philosophy, because it’s not always possible for everything to work out the way we’d like.

That was then, and these days I’m a different person.

Here’s what I say now:  fuck you, Fields.  That shit was easy for you to say, because when you said that, you’d already arrived in Hollywood, driving a Duesenberg and holding $100,000 in your bank account.  That means you were already made, baby, and that makes it easy to piss on the aspirations of others–

Ain’t got time for that.  I gotta move Forward.  I gotta keep trying.

I’ve died enough–

Time to start living.

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