In case you couldn't tell by the fact that I cowardly hid away from the blog over the past few days, I did not hit 80k on new year's eve. Nor did I miraculously finish the novel in less than that. No, it seems that I am no closer to being done now than I was a week ago.
I don't need to go into detail about the amount of mental effort required to keep that inner critic of mine quiet with so much fuel readily available for the fire. Nor do I need to say how many times the word failure has floated through my mind only to be beaten back down by that optimistic champion of mine who endlessly defends me against the barrage of insults I usually hear on a loop in my head. Because you all know me, so you can safely assume all that without me telling you.
No, what I need to say is that despite this set back, I'm not giving up. That deadline was not actually a deadline because, let's face it: I'm not dead. Nothing terrible happened. I didn't delay the release of a paper or prevent myself from finishing the novel. All I did was delay it. As one of you simply asked when I reluctantly admitted my lack of forward momentum, "Will you finish it this month?"
My response? I don't know. I know there is still much more to be written and much more of the story to unfold. More than i've even thought of yet, I suspect. The more of this thing I write the more it seems to decide it's own path. I started out with some pretty specific plot points and it hit those relatively easily and then went further, meandering down little side paths I didn't see at the start. And now all I have is a vague idea of where I want to end up with no clear plan of exactly how i'm going to get there. This will likely make the word count grow more than I planned, and I'm ok with that.
For a terribly brief time in high school (before I realized how much I absolutely despise running), I joined the cross country track team. After a week on the team the regulars decided to initiate me by showing me the side paths through the park near the school. The unpaved, publicly unused paths through the woods that they frequented. I loved them. The canopy of trees overhead, the quiet, the lack of people. It was so much better than the main track on the school grounds we all had to do warm-up laps on. I hated that track- the noise, the constant shouts to go faster, keep up, push it, whatever. Give me hours on the trails in the park over that.
That seems to be what I'm going for here. The finish line is there, somewhere in the distance. I'm in no rush to get there. I'm meandering, exploring, wandering around in the story and discovering lots of fun little facts along the way. I will finish, someday. But for the first time since I started this thing, I'm in no rush.
I don't know if this is the right way to do things. The threat of going off the path is that you might wander into quick sand, or trip over a log, or get bitten by something nasty and never reach your destination. I'm sure there are pitfalls I could reach that could seriously injure me (metaphorically speaking) and possibly prevent me from finishing. But I'm counting on being able to backtrack, re-write and move past those should I encounter them. And I'm sure there's much to be learned from that.
So I'll keep writing. Hopefully the story will move forward as it fleshes itself out. Hopefully it'll stay at least vaguely readable. Hopefully I won't want to kill my main character out of frustration. And maybe, just maybe I'll end up with something worthwhile.
And in the meantime, I'm way overdue to get back on track with the random little snippets of fiction that I originally started this blog to practice. So stay tuned for those.