An objective observer, given the all-access pass to my life, my blog and, most importantly, my mind, would have to judge Row80 Round 1 (or at least my participation therein) a failure. Luckily, and I say this with all sincerity, I am neither objective nor an observer. I am a participant and my assessments riddled with subjective commentary, a million excuses and a fierce desire to do better.
That said, my Row80 Round 1 was not especially successful.. I wrote very little in the end. Doubts consumed. I tried to drown them in the rediscovered joys of reading, but the sense of failure stayed with me. I was ashamed of my poor performance. I wanted to blame someone, anyone, other than myself. I was set to point the finger at a girl in my critique group, the doubts seeded in my mind by her unthinking admonishment to "finish something."
Except...that's why I'm here. That's why I decided to dive in for Round 1 in the first place. Because I need to finish something. Her words, offered in frustration at yet another new beginning, were given in ignorance of the many projects I'd set aside in favor of going back to an older work, a dearer work. She did not know that this latest new beginning was the start of one of the few finished projects on my shelf in need of edits, one whose parts would fulfill my obligation for pages in the group while allowing me to devote my writing time not to a new beginning for a new story...but to finding an ending for an old one. She did not know this and, to my shame, I did not explain myself.
And yet I let her words consume me, to expand upon themselves and multiply, fed by my own insecurities and unspoken fears. Was I doing the right thing? Was I working on the right project? The right novel? Was I going about it the right way? Should I be outlining? Should I be writing more? Less? Should I be doing a snowflake or a spreadsheet? What about character sheets and maps? Should I abandon my haphazard method of letting my fingers find their own way through character, plot and resolution? Maybe I shouldn't read quite so much? Maybe I shouldn't blog? Maybe the challenge itself was an excuse? A gimmick? Maybe Row80 was just one more distraction from the real-time work of finishing something.
Consumed by these doubts, I stopped writing, stopped checking in, stopped blogging.
Her fault? No, not at all. Mine. My fault. My failure. My little head-games. I'm sure she'd be horrified to know what my psyche did with her off-hand comment. I'm horrified.
Row80 Round 1 made me write, at least at the start. It brought me back to reading. It kept
these things at the forefront of my mind even when I was doing neither.
So, personal weakness aside, I'm counting Row80 Round 1 as something a step removed from failure...maybe not a big step but I'm ready to try again.
So I'm back for Round 2. If it's a gimmick, I don't care. If it's a distraction? It's a welcome one. Is this the right novel? Who knows? Who cares? After all, the idea is to "finish something." Maybe I finish Row80. Maybe that's the first step?
1. Write something every day.
2. Average 5000 words a week.
3. Continue reading. 5 nights a week, at least 10 minutes.