#writerproblems: When Life's River Changes Course (Or, Transforming #Writing shortfalls into Successful #WritingGoals)

Well, here we are. Thanksgiving came and went before I could even show you Blondie’s lovely art project for November.

I do so love anything that reminds me of stained glass windows. xxxxx

I had hoped to share another 1,000 or so words of What Happened When Grandmother Failed to Die with you.

National Novel Writing Month called to my imagination with the promise of storytelling in spite of all life’s commitments. Thousands take up the challenge, so why can’t I? And I was realistic about this, too. I knew 50,000 words was impossible, but surely there could be SOME way to accomplish a meaningful amount of words. I’ve done it before, and dammit, I could do it again!

But if you saw my banner for November, you might already know what changed the course of my plans.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t the motherhood. I managed to turn Biff’s day of fever into a quick morning of writing.

No no–it was the teaching. Yeah, the final projects from my University students were once again a big drain on time, but those at least I knew how to manage. The subbing among six different school districts, however, was constantly unpredictable. A small agreement of a three-hour stint would change into a six-hour haul among several different grades. I’d show up expecting to work with a special needs kid only to find out I’m actually teaching 1st grade math to kids more eager to stab each other in the eye with pencils than to just sit the Godfrey Daniel down. (You can decipher that bold phrase if you channel your inner WC Fields.) This doesn’t even include the 5am phone calls of, “Can you come in today? All day. There are notes here for your duties, I think. We’ll look when you get here.”

It was a busy month. Busy, and rough. I’d be rushing from hours spent with a kid who refused to use kleenex and therefore had a steady stream of mucus running from his nose into his mouth while eating his snack and then coming up to hug every single adult and myself and to give us high fives with those same boogery hands and I had to prevent myself from gagging all over this kid OLD ENOUGH TO USE A FRICKETY FRACKIN’ TISSUE and then get my own kids, NOT let them hug me so I wouldn’t spread whatever germs are smeared in green on my person, and grade finals.

And the typical bits of motherhood don’t vanish,do they? Blondie needed to work on her piano. Biff and Bash needed to do their homework, and they needed to attend their occupational therapy. All three needed to be fed with actual food, not just, you know, dog bowls on the floor. (Though that would be SOOOO much easier.)

At the beginning of November, I was certain I could use the same tactics I had in previous years to write while parenting and teaching. And if my life’s course was still just motherhood and teaching online for the university. it could have worked.

But this fall, the course of my life changed when I added the substitute jobs. The river no longer flowed in the way I understood it. It went from this…

…to this.

I missed writing so much.

I wanted life to continue its typical course with my writing floating atop. I might row for ten miles one day, just around the bend the next. But at least I’d be writing again.

Yet at least two weeks of November passed with no writing at all.

I had failed.

β€œFailures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.”

C.S. Lewis

That failure hung on me like twin boys determined to make me a tree. It hung on me like the face my daughter used to make when I’d say time and time again, “Not now.” It hung on me like the words my husband couldn’t say because I had to work. I had to do more. There was always more to do.

And that, Dear Friends, is when it’s time to stop.

You may think you can walk upon the river’s stones. You may think you can continue on your course your way because you are you.

That’s what I thought. I put on my sensible shoes and figured I could portage my writing across the rapids without *too* much trouble.

I was so bloody determined to carry my writing through these unpredictable waters that I failed to look on what I had done as any sort of accomplishment.

It’s so easy to get caught up in what we fail to do, isn’t it? We get daily notifications of a gazillion new authors all hot’n’fancy with readers we’d LOVE to have for ourselves. We check out the new best-seller brew-ha-ha and wonder what on EARTH inspires people to spend money on such’n’such garbage when there’s *our* stuff ready and waiting. We hear of yet another remake/re-imagining/reboot/re-whatever and wonder why no one notices the bounty of fresh fiction we create.

We look so longingly at the accomplishments of others that we forget what we ourselves have accomplished. No, I didn’t finish my story, but I did work to help keep Blondie in music and Biff and Bash with their therapy. No, I didn’t finish my story, but I did inspire my daughter to start her own. No, I didn’t finish my story, but I did get to split my sides laughing while Biff and Bash shared their favorite quotes from a Captain Underpants read-a-thon (Seriously, Biff sat and read an entire novel out loud with Bash silently listening. It was AMAZING.)

So Friends, please don’t dwell on what wasn’t finished. There will always be a course to travel, and it will always be a mystery beyond the bend. What matters is that you take a step, then another, then another. One day you may take one hundred steps, the next one thousand, the next, just one. Every single step–every single word–is something to be proud of.

~Stay Tuned Next Week!~

I’m going to start posting on Sundays instead of Thursdays, so now you have to wait until next Sunday for some awesome writing music, updates from Blondie, and perhaps some writing craft study on an old holiday favorite. More author interviews are underway as well, so be sure to stop by and see who’s on the hot-seat in the coming weeks!

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

48 thoughts on “#writerproblems: When Life's River Changes Course (Or, Transforming #Writing shortfalls into Successful #WritingGoals)

  1. Sending you a big hug. We take the small wins. They add up over time. They are often the ones which are personal and as such the sweetest. It always amazes me that you can write so brilliantly and still be a wonderful parent and be so busy with work. Thank you for finding time for us. Thank you for those brilliant 12000 words. Thank you for whatever is still to come. See you Sunday. Sunday’s are the best day to blog…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I shall, I shall! It did hit hard during Thanksgiving time–I was so sure I’d have time to write, but nope, more cleaning/cooking/hostessing to do, so I was beating myself up a bit. Bo gave me hug and a reality check, and I realized how badly I needed to take a look at what was done, and not what was not done. xxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘…concentrate on what was done not what wasn’t…’ you just said it yourself. Too right! The wonderfully written 12K words are all yours and all those awesome other things you’ve done. Pat yourself on the back and take a bow too. You’ve earned it, my friend x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And still you’re amazing.
    My achievements through November were responding to practical demands, fixing things around the house, preventing my porch door from falling apart, ending a cold draft from a skylight that didn’t properly shut by applying lots of WD-40, raking leaves, etc. etc.
    Decades ago I used to say to my little son, ‘Not now.’
    He once asked, ‘When does now end?’ I think I wrote about this on my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, I’m so glad you’ve written this wonderful post. I was all set to write this looong comment about the issue of using wordcounts as a stimulus and a goal – until it became the icon for all what we were unable to achieve, instead of what we had managed to do. And I am still in awe that with three young children, a DEMANDING job and a husband who probably needs to occasionally chat to you now and then… you still manage to write 12,000 of THAT quality… You’re awesome and that’s official.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing your November with us and for the nuggets of life lessons the month generously provided! Life being one darn thing after another we can either scream out at our upset plans or make a virtue of what comes our way: it’s clear what path you took, and you’ve even turned it into a post! Commiserations *and* congratulations in equal measure heading your way… 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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