I’m a failure, and I’m OK with that.

Really, I am. And I’m really, really OK with that.

You see, I failed at VEDA. I have willingly given up on Camp NaNo, though I can’t call it a failure until September 1.  I have failed as a critique partner because L.’s manuscript has sat on my desk for two weeks, untouched. I have failed as a reader because my backlog hasn’t changed in six weeks. I have been non-existent as a blogger, both here and over at NA Alley, and as a blog commenter.

Failure, though, can be both good and bad.

When failure feels bad, it’s the absolute worst feeling in the entire world for a while. Take a majority of the silver medal winners at the Olympics. I saw quite a few tweets and online comments along the lines of, “Why is s/he crying? S/he won the silver.” and “Shouldn’t s/he be happy to get the silver?” and “What’s so wrong with second place that everyone is upset by it?”  This is the thing about second place, the silver medal: you have to lose.  You win the gold medal. You win the bronze medal (beating out the fourth place competitor for a coveted spot on the podium). But you have to lose to get that silver, and it’s a really heart-wrenching and awful loss. It’s the type of loss that can wreck a person or push them farther than they’ve ever been before.

But I’m not an Olympian, and after high school I gave up competitive sports that put me anywhere near a podium. And I’ve learned that some types of failures — like accepting failure when something stops being fun or starts driving me batty — are actually quite good for the soul. And sanity. Mostly sanity.

I was going crazy trying to do VEDA, and trying to worry about word count when I really need to stop feeling so far behind all my writer friends, and trying to finish up at my job and trying to get ready for my last year of graduate school, and trying and trying and trying….

The last several weeks have felt like swimming through mud (something I’ve never actually done but it sounds ineffective & exhausting). In hindsight, I have accomplished enough in the last three weeks. I have. I did a lot of car maintenance (and discovered an entirely new car problem).  I’ve gone on three weekend trips, most recently to Hunstville, AL to visit friends and celebrate an engagement. I’ve watched the entire first season of Supernatural, which then kept me up all night (thanks yellow-eyed demon!). I’ve celebrated a best friend’s graduation. I’ve done all of my laundry, though it doesn’t feel like it because laundry piles up constantly.

You get the point. I’ve done things, and yet, the things I set out to accomplish this month — VEDA, Camp NaNo, blogging, reading L.’s manuscript — those things I started and then left behind.

It’s time to prioritize.

  1. I’m giving up on VEDA for my blog. I love blogging, and let’s be serious, I can’t be good at vlogging because I have the worst equipment ever & no money to buy the basics. SO HELLO AGAIN BLOG!
  2. I’m giving up on Camp NaNo in favor of real, productive, and necessary work on my novel, in whatever form that work might be. I suspect lots of outlining and scene drafting in my near future. I will still, however, be hosting Writers’ Hangouts on Wednesday nights at 9pm EST. This is a hangout for writers, at any stage in their writing, coming together and commiserating one night a week.
  3. I’m working on L.’s manuscript every week day. This is the thing that slipped behind me that I feel the worst about because, really, the writing I cherish as much as my own is hers. Letting her novel fall into the abyss of my last three weeks feels exactly like letting my novel fall into my abyss, and it’s all left me very cranky and a little sad. I like spending time in her novel as much as mine, and some days, even more.
  4. I’m prioritizing my reading list. The first half of the year saw a very high and steady read count per month, but I’m having to let that drop a little to focus on writing and school (it’s coming back for me, ah!). I’m hoping to read two books a month from my TBR list. Right now I’m rereading Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen and also The Fall of the Kings by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. Both are pleasant, slow reads, and I think that’s exactly what my mind needs before the chaos and speed of grad school begins again at the end of the month.

So sorry I’ve been gone, or here but kind of absent. I’m back now. Really back, and ready to engage with the Internet world around me.

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2 Comments

  1. So, I’m not reading any of this as failure. You’re adjusting your priorities, which is not failure. One thing I’ve learned–‘k, maybe the ONLY thing I’ve learned–is that goals and expectations are organic. They are simply made to change and evolve.

    That’s why I believe persistence is the only real goal we should ever set for ourselves. Just say, “No matter how things shift, I’m not going to quit trying.” You do that, and you’ll never fail. I guarantee it.

    I actually posted this week about things I wish I’d have known when I began writing, and one of them is (basically) that I shouldn’t try to be things I’m not. Essentially what you said, ” I really need to stop feeling so far behind all my writer friends…” There’s just so much wasted energy when it comes to fretting about where you should be in the collective process. You should be exactly where you’re at.

    What I’d encourage you (and anyone else who feels like they’re not achieving what they’d planned) to do before you start giving yourself too many Fs, is to examine what you’re doing and why.

    Why’d you start blogging? Why are you taking part in NaNoWriMo? Why beta read for people? I bet most of it has to do with becoming a better writer and applying the craft you’re learning.

    And from my seat, it looks like that’s exactly what you’re doing. 🙂

  2. You’re goofy. You’re not a failure. You’re simply alive and having to deal with the things that that brings us.
    Sometimes we have to readjust our lives for a bit, change routines, put things on the backburner etc. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
    And OH isn’t going anywhere. I don’t want it adding to your stress!
    I ❤ you!
    L

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