In the last week my feeds have been filled with certificates and relieved exclamations of “I won NaNoWriMo!” This is quickly followed by clarifying statements of, “But I still have about 30,000 words to finish the story.”
It feels like NaNoWriMo is a marathon, and once you cross the finish, you’re done. Then in the afterglow, you quickly realize this is just the beginning.
Writing is a series of interconnected marathons – a continuous punctuated race. You may win one, but that has no bearing on the next one. Every race is new. Every race requires as much effort as the last. Likewise, if you fail once, it doesn’t matter. There’s always the next one.
This is a depressing way to look at writing, and I’d rather give you a different story.
You can’t win at writing. You can’t fail it either.
Writing is a relationship. You wake up every morning, ready to greet your lover with a kiss and good wishes. When you do that, Writing responds likewise. Writing greets you in excitement, ready to interact and explore the world in this mutual adventure of life. As you write, Writing shows you the best and worst of yourself, allowing you to grow and change as needed.
Sometimes you fight. Sometimes you show Writing’s screw ups and your dear one gets upset, slamming the door and locking it. You may have to bang on it – apologizing. Eventually through conversation, you come to a mutual understanding and Writing admits changes need to be made.
You take your dear one out and show the world. You show Writing off, hoping to highlight the glorious relationship you have. This isn’t to make other people feel bad – it’s just to celebrate your writing. You know other writers are worse or better. That doesn’t really matter. You just want someone to love Writing as much as you do. And someone will come close – not the same love, but close. That will be enough for you both.
The process repeats, day in and out. It isn’t something you can cut off at some arbitrary point. It isn’t something that you can truly fail. You can’t win this. This is a marriage. Or maybe it’s parenting. Whatever the case, it requires commitment, discipline, and love. It doesn’t end, and I, for one, am so glad.
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