Well the Clarion Write-A-Thon ended at midnight on Saturday. My goal was to write 18 chapters of a novella during the Thon. How did I stack up? I wrote 8 chapters.
I’m a little disappointed, but not overly so.
Here’s the thing: I knew I wasn’t going to write 18 chapters in such a short time. I have a full time job and really intensive summer classes. My boyfriend’s ex wife needed us to keep his kids full-time for the last four weeks, too, and children are not very conducive to writing (especially in a small two-bedroom townhome).
I had hoped, however, to get to Chapter 12. Or even Chapter 9.
Then I got sick.
The thing that sucks about being sick (I mean really, truly ill) is that I have all this free time, because I’m not going to work, but I can’t use it for anything productive because I’m so weak. I tend to be sick with infections more frequently than the average person and my illnesses tend to be more severe. My theory is that my immune system is too busy waging war on harmless particles of cat dander and dust mites to be bothered actually protecting me from stuff like, you know, viruses and bacteria. At any rate, I usually schedule in some sick time when I make plans because there’s a good chance I’ll be sick and lose a couple of days for that. So again, I knew I wouldn’t complete 18 chapters. I wasn’t expecting to be as sick as I was (am–I’m still not entirely recovered, and it’s been a week, arg), so it was a harder blow than I anticipated.
You’re probably wondering why I set the goal at something I knew I probably wouldn’t achieve. That’s because I find that if the goal is too low, or too easy to achieve, then I don’t achieve much of anything at all. Now obviously you don’t want to the goal to be so big it’s daunting, but it needs to be big enough to be motivating. Something to really strive for, that’s achievable, and realistic, but simultaneously lofty.
I finally felt like myself again on Sunday and managed to complete Chapter 9, too late to count towards the Thon, but better than nothing. So I am halfway to my goal, but here’s the thing: the novella has grown. Every time I write a chapter, it gets longer, because I’m including a lot more detail and characterization than I included in the original short story on which the novella is based. So, while I’m halfway to the original goal of 18 chapters, I’m not halfway to the end of the novella. I’m not sure how long the novella will be, in the end. Right now it looks like 25 chapters or so, but it will continue to expand. I suspect later I’ll have to go back and cut some of these chapters, or rearrange and consolidate them, because I find that my protagonist is washing the dishes a lot. But that’s part of writing a crappy first draft. It’s allowed.
I want to thank all my friends who contributed to the Thon, and helped me get on a team, and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside: Biz, Claude, Jerry, Cynthia, Chante, Jim, and Anonymous. We raised something like $128 for Clarion, or thereabouts, maybe a little less because I didn’t hit my goal (surprisingly, I didn’t get any kind of “thanks for participating, you raised $56 million” email after the Thon was over, so I don’t know the exact amount). And the writers of the Thon raised about $16,000 total, which is pretty freaking impressive, especially considering we did it all on our butts in front of computer screens.
The reason I signed up for the Thon wasn’t for charity, though. It was in the hopes that a deadline–however arbitrary–would motivate me to write. And it did that. So my next arbitrary deadline is August 20. That’s the date my next semester starts. I have until then to finish this novella, in its entirety. GO!