Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How Not to Be a Failure

So we’ve all made New Year’s resolutions, right?

My big one this year was to write two thousand words a day. Okay, one thousand. Then family matters caused me to skip a day. I promised myself to get back to my work in progress the next morning. Right? Right.

Um, not so fast.
I found out friends from out of town were coming. I had to clean the house. You know, that house I’ve overlooked for way too long. Good thing I had the week to do the cleaning because, boy, what a mess. Oh, and all the mail I needed to shred. Bags of it with my name, credit card numbers, bank numbers. Half a day’s worth of shredding mail. The daily junk mail goes in the recycle barrel, so at least I don’t have to shred that.

Good. I was on a roll.

Uh, oh. I forgot about the critique. My critique partner and I rarely miss our twenty pages, give or take, every two weeks. I wasn’t ready. Now, where was I? Because, you know, with all the family matters, house cleaning, and visitors, I had no time to think about where my characters are, let alone where they’re going.
I needed to sit down and seriously write those twenty pages. At least I could count them in my daily projection. Twenty pages at two hundred fifty words a page equals five thousand words--five days of writing. Yes!

Then my son called and asked if I would help out with the grandbaby for a few days while he and his wife go out of town? Oh, and the three dogs, four counting mine. Sure, happy to, son. Maybe, just maybe, I thought, I could get something done when the angel was sleeping. Did I mention the sweet thing, not even two, naps for about ten minutes, and that’s on a good day? I’d write after she has her bath and goes to bed for the night. She’s finally sleeping through, mostly. I opened my computer in the silence of the house—no Mickey Mouse or Curious George or Nick Jr—and started to work.

Wait! What? How could I have fallen asleep? I was determined to write my pages. They’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

A day later: I’ve given up on writing. Angel is too much fun, and I don’t want to miss this precious time. I’ll write when I get home.

Back home at my desk, I’m determined to get my thousand words in. Darn, I forgot about the blog post I need to write for The Blood Red Pencil. Better get that out of the way or it will weigh on my mind.

Lunch with my writing friends. We don’t do it often, but it’s a whole day’s worth because four of us are in South Carolina, another is in Georgia. We met halfway.
That was three hours of driving for me, but it was worth it. We laughed, caught up on what we’ve been doing (I didn’t mention the book I’m not writing), and we ate. I did a little grocery shopping on the way home.

Now it’s Laundry Day, I tweeted to my Twitter friends in between, then walked my dog, Bogie. I realized he stinks. Better wash him. He’s matted, and I needed to get those uglies out. I have a podcast with another writer next week. Have no idea what he’ll ask me. I hope he doesn’t ask me about New Year’s resolutions.

I’ve decided I’m not going to make New Year’s resolutions anymore. I’m just not disciplined enough to keep them, and it’s a sure route to failure. Instead, I’ll sit down and write what I can each day, “each day” being the operative words. I might write fifty words, I might write three thousand, depending on the fluidity of both my mind and the story. But I will write something, and that’s the important thing.

Meanwhile, my alter ego―she writes erotic romance―just got back the rights to her last sexy novel. I redid the cover, changed a few things in the edit, and now it’s up and ready.

Maybe I’m not such a failure after all.



Polly Iyer is the author of seven novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and three books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, and Backlash. A Massachusetts native, she makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. You can visit her website for more on Polly and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

28 comments :

  1. Love this post. I think we all can relate. My goal to finish my book by the end of this month is looking more and more unattainable. Funny how life gets in the way.

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    1. Writing this made me wonder how I ever wrote eleven books. Was I more disciplined? Am I washed now out? Have I lost my enthusiasm? Today I'm going to work. I am. Really.

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    2. washed out now. Obviously I'm not in full gear.

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    3. I always forget to mention which month and what year! Snort.

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  2. The story of our lives: interruptions, distractions, unexpected/forgotten events, and the list goes on. It's a wonder we ever get to write at all -- but when we do, that's success, not failure. :-)

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    1. I agree, which is why I consider getting my rights back, creating the cover, and getting it spiffied up to publish. Now if only I could do that with my work in progress.

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  3. Lordy. I am having the same problems. Renovate the garage apt. Move in relative. All the little things. Family doctor. Dog doctor. I think I'm seeing the light...

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    1. Glad you are, Vicki. I've promised myself that I'll be more disciplined, but it's not a resolution. :-) Thanks for dropping by.

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  4. The writer's struggle in a nutshell!

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    1. Simple, isn't it? We can't shut out all the other things that have to be done. I didn't mention making dinner every night. Usually, that's the time I'm getting into my groove.

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  5. Now you're talking', Polly ... resolutions, schmezolutions ... just go with the flow ... and if you happen to flow onto the couch, so be it.

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    1. I do love my couch, Christopher. I even work on it when all the other things are done. Then I fall asleep.

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  6. You made me feel so much better. I rake myself over the coals for not getting more done, everywhere. Nice to know I'm in good company.

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    1. I wish I accomplished as much as you do, Kathy. I'd be happy.

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  7. We need to stop obsessively measuring our successes and failures and simply celebrate each time we sit down to write.

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    1. Exactly, Liz, which was my conclusion. Whatever we do is all we can do for that day, week, or month, and we have to stop beating us up about it.

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  8. Great post--I can identify. I'm buried in kitchen renovations, so much so I didn't even bother with New Year's resolutions. Maybe I'll make Spring resolutions--you know, the rebirth and all? Seems fitting.

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    1. I don't think I'll do that, Ellis. I know what will happen. But I'll surely support your efforts. :-)

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  9. Great, timely post. I made no resolutions. Have come to know better. I also had planned to finish my new humorous mystery by end of January. Isn't going to happen. I'm setting up registration for the Writers' Police Academy, preparing two newsletters for nonprofits, and, oh yeah, accepting an invitation from tennis buddies for a week at the beach.

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    1. You're the busiest person I know, Linda. If I had your plate, I'd be a basketcase. Good luck on getting your mystery finished, someday. :-)

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  10. I’ve given up resolutions, Polly. I tried goals for a few years. That didn’t work either. I still ended up feeling like a failure when life intruded. This year my only objective is to do my very best. If I don’t give my all and guilt sets in, then it’s probably deserved.

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    1. I think "very best" is the best we can hope for. I'm afraid if I forced 1000 pages, they'd be terrible and I'd have to do them over anyway. We're on the same page, VR.

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  11. I can relate to this. We writers try to juggle multiple balls at once, but we also have the ability to laser focus on writing from time to time and let everything else go to pot. My busy times come and go, so it is a constant challenge of multi-tasking. When you get carried away by a flash flood in life, best to flow with the current. Once you ease your way to shore, you can get back in the swing of things again. Oh gosh. I'm definitely rambling. Nice post, Polly. I'll shut up now.

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    1. Maggie, you're one of the hardest working writers I know. You put me to shame. Keep on with the flow. Maybe I can draft you.

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  12. Just when I think I'm caught up, that's when I usually find out I forgot something! I have a bunch of papers in the basket of my shredder, but so far they all fit in, so I'll wait before that project!

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    1. There's always something, Morgan. Never fails. Which reminds me, Laundry.

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  13. You are not a failure for sure! You just live full interesting life and it's absolutely great ))) All in a good time.

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    1. Writing is interesting. I cherish my family and friends. Laundry and cleaning, not so much. :-)

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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