//in which I am a dropout

I hate quitting. Even when I pile my metaphorical plate higher than Vesuvius, I hate to remove even a single thing from that plate. It feels like giving up. It feels like failure.

Which is why it took me two weeks to realize I had to strategically retreat from quit NaNo.

The setup was perfect – I was raring to go, my heart was 100% in the novel. I’ve done it many times before and only ever intentionally dropped out once, in 2014, when I realized the subject matter was too heavy to rush in a month.

Well, Mirriam, psychopaths aren’t exactly a fluffy subject either. You probably should have guessed this would happen.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the subject matter this time around that caused the problem. It was several factors.

  • I wrote 17k+ words in The Dying of the Light – and subsequently finished my year-long project – in the three days before I started another novel. Having never done this before, I can safely tell you now – with experience – that it’s a terrible idea. You can’t just dive from one novel right into the next and expect it to work out – or at least I can’t. My mind was still in another world, along with most of my emotions. Not to mention I’d all but burnt out – which is a terrible way to start NaNo
  • Sometimes I take firm hold of a novel, only for it to change on me. Several times. Nihilum forced me to re-start it twice. (If I have to re-start a novel three days after I start it, it’s usually a good sign the novel isn’t ready.) I could have forced it, I could have wrung the words out for a month and struggled the whole way – but the novel would have been a sad, deformed shadow of itself. It deserves to percolate and be born as healthy as possible. Is it shelved? Not in the least. Is it still growing? Yes. And it will continue to grow until it’s ready.
  • This year has been a series of unfortunate events; some big, some small, all amounting to a very large pile. Every time I think things are evening out…they aren’t. And when something becomes a stress factor I can actually remove, I have to take it. This month that meant dropping NaNo.

So now what? I need to focus on the art commissions at hand, so that’s mostly what I’ll be doing for the rest of the month. I have a stack of books to finish, and I have a novel I can toy with (only plotting, at least until the month is out) on the side. Soon I’ll need to read back over and revise The Dying of the Light, and then find an editor, as it’s the next book I’d like to publish. (Although it may be harder than most, since it’s….long.)

So that’s my update – and I’ll keep telling myself that quitting NaNo isn’t failure. It’s the equivalent of retiring before your boss can fire you.

8 thoughts on “//in which I am a dropout”

  1. I feel this. Sometimes it just happens, and you have to do what’s best for you. It’s a lesson a lot of people have to learn, me included. But hey, I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself! I hope the rest of your November is less stressed. :)


  2. I’m wondering if I should strategically retreat. I did so well for the first five days, and then … life decided to pull drama on me. Sigh. It’s like everything is going smoothly and then I’m blindsided. And now I can’t seem to get above 4,000 words (my goal is 20,000) and it’s just … ugh.


  3. *hugs* I’m sorry you’ve been having such a tough year. :( You’re in my prayers! But good for you on your strategic retreat — Nihilum will be waiting when it’s ready. I know that’s hard though. :-/ I LOVE YOU AND I HOPE THINGS WILL GET BETTER FOR YOU AND THAT YOU WILL FEEL BETTER! <3 <3 <3


  4. One of the things I admire about you, Mirriam, is your ability to take a step back when you need to. Maybe you don’t feel like you do that every time you need to, but from the outside, it’s amazing and inspiring to watch you put things aside that mean a lot to you because you know you can’t manage it at the moment. I always admire you whenever you announce something like this, or an internet hiatus, or anything of that nature. When you take the time to acknowledge that something’s not right and you do your best to remedy it. It’s a beautiful sign of self-care and strength and I’m blessed to be able to observe it.


  5. It breaks my heart that things have been so stressful for you, but I think you are SO brave and wise to choose to step away from NaNo. It is most certainly NOT a failure. It’s choosing to put your own mental health first. Choosing to give your story the time it deserves to be amazing. And GIRL. You wrote SO MANY WORDS right before NaNo. Of course you’d be burnt out!

    This is not quitting. This is putting yourself and the time your book needs first. I admire you for this!

    I so hope the stress settles. You’re always in my prayers! <3


  6. *sets a cat in your lap and a cup of tea on your desk* Strategic retreat is not the same failing, especially when it makes you and your book better. You’re gonna be okay. <3


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