Thursday, January 16, 2014

Here's why you haven't finished writing that novel.

In the illustrious words of Van Halen, "come on, baby, finish what you started."

Let me set the stage for you, and I want you to feel free to chime in and hit the buzzer when it starts to sound familiar.

It's November (National Novel Writing Month), or maybe it's one of the other eleven, equally-important months of the year.  You've come up with a terrific idea for a new novel.  It's never been done before, or at least it's never been done exactly the way you're going to do it.

You're a pretty decent writer.  Yeah, you don't make enough on your writing alone to cover the bills, but if you could just get this novel written, you have a few more ideas tucked away that might earn you enough pocket change to fuel your growing coffee habit.  (Or nicotine.  Or medical marijuana.  Whatever.)

So you take what you learned back in your creative writing class and you sit down and just start writing.  I mean, that's what writers do:  they write.  Right?  Maybe you outline a little bit first, or maybe you've decided you're going to pants the whole thing.  Let the ending romantically sneak up on you and all that.

So you sit and you write.  And write.  And write.

You're ten thousand words in.  Maybe twenty thousand.  Congratulations, you just passed the thirty-three thousand word mark...

...and then it trails off.  Peters out.  Shrivels up and just sort of dies right there on the page.

You don't know what went wrong.  You know the plot forward and backward, you know the characters inside and out, but something just isn't right.  You flip through the manuscript and the writing is better than you'd imagine for a first draft, but something vital is missing.  There's nothing there to make the reader turn the pages.  The pace is too slow, or maybe you're twelve thousand words in but you've eaten roughly 90% of your outline.  Your scenes are too short, or maybe it's your chapters.  "How long should a chapter even be?" you ask the empty living room.  You might choose to throw a few expletives in there for good measure.  It's your call.

You're frustrated.  You toss what has been completed into a desk drawer and promise you'll get back to it some day.  Or maybe that "failure" was the straw that finally broke the proverbial camel's back.  Maybe you start thinking that writing just isn't for you.  You wonder if there's a market just for outlines, because your idea was pretty dang good, wasn't it?

What I stated above, that "hypothetical example"?  I get that.  Five times over.

So what happened?  What really went wrong?

Story physics.

Or, to put it more clearly, Story Physics, by Larry Brooks.

If you have the same struggles I just described, this book might be for you.  Inside, Brooks discusses some of the reasons that good stories go bad, and defines them under his umbrella of "story physics."  Sound like just another silly catch phrase aimed at defenseless writers who are looking for a way to write better stories?  Yeah, maybe, but the book delivers as long as you're ready to put your ideas under the microscope.

Warning:  You may not like what you see.

After I finished Brooks' book, I decided to completely revamp my outline:  the story I wanted to write just wasn't compelling enough for my intended audience.  Hell, if I couldn't even finish getting it down on paper, what made me think a reader was going to stick through to the end?

Brooks looks at a few recent successes, completely breaking down two of the novels using his format so you can see exactly what he's talking about.  (Note:  It helps tremendously if you are already familiar with any of the three books to which he refers:  The DaVinci Code, The Hunger Games, and The Help.  I had only read two, but it was enough for me to understand his logic and examples.)

2013's NaNo outline has been completely revised.  The characters are mostly the same, and a few scenes from the initial outline are still going to work with this new and improved revision, but thanks to Brooks' guidance, I can finally see why and how my hard revisions are going to work.  Chapter 22 explained everything, but don't skip ahead or you won't have any idea what the chapter is really about.

Rewriting the outline was difficult, but following the advice in this book, I now feel like the "grunt work" is out of the way.  I finished chapter one of my manuscript yesterday, and I'm ecstatic at the outcome.

If you decide to pick up a copy, or if you've already read it, weigh in.  I'm always open for discussion.

Happy writing!

Cherstin.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Job, now Luc, days 4 and 5.

Not too much to report, other than the name change.  I didn't want to burden Job with a name that might follow him around with negative connotations for the rest of his life, so he became Luc.  It's fancy for "Luke," and pronounced the same, but in my mind, it's sort of short for Lucky.   ;-)

Day 4, yesterday, we still did 2 shampoos - the Chlorhexiderm in the morning and the Benzoyl Peroxide in the evening - but today I noticed his skin was looking super dry, so I just went with the Chlorhexiderm shampoo this evening.  Yesterday, the bases of both ears were swollen, so I went ahead and started him on some antibiotics.  I had three 500 mg amoxicillin left over from something, so I gave him one yesterday, one this morning, and another this evening.  I also made him a vet appointment for tomorrow morning at 9am to get more - it seems to be working.

Although I still had to bribe him to drink today because of his fever, he actually played with Bella this afternoon, which was really sweet.  I can see Luc is going to be a handful, though.  I think he missed out on a lot of his early socialization when it comes to play, so he's got some making up to do.  Bella straightened him out with her polar bear bark a few times, but I found myself cringing a bit, realizing when he's not feeling miserable and napping 98% of the day, we might be in for a strong-willed, ill-mannered puppy once he shakes this fever.  It's all good though.  If anyone can handle it, we've got it under control.

We're still at about 0.6ml of ivermectin 1% once a day, so I'm hoping with all the shampoos and stuff, the vet isn't going to want to do a skin scrape tomorrow.  I'll keep you posted.  For now, here's a sweet picture of Luc today - I had the rug spread across two sawhorses, which my 2-year-old claimed for himself.  I threw the rug onto the hammock (for lack of a better place), and Luc came over to investigate.



Said "investigation" turned into a nice, hour-long nap in the sun.

I'll update tomorrow after the vet - fingers crossed!

Cherstin, out.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Job, Days 2 and 3

Here it is, Christmas Eve morning.  Like each morning since Sunday, I woke again, holding my breath while I lifted the blankets covering Job's crate.  I gave myself the pep talk in case I looked to find that Job hadn't made it - the talk about trying my best, about how he knew love for the first time - but happily found Job with his head raised, looking all around at the morning light.

He ate a good breakfast this morning, and I've gotten sneaky on him:  other than the oozing, weepy skin, the second biggest hurdle since Job arrived is the fact that I could not get him to drink anything but low sodium chicken broth, along with 2 or 3 sips of Gatorade.  I put my foot down yesterday and began mixing his dry food with warm water.  He loves the Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream food, so now he's got to drink a bit in order to get that satisfying crunch.  I took a good, long look at him while he was eating, and he looks magnificent.  Let me break down what we did yesterday for those who may be in the same boat.

Yesterday, Job's shampoo arrived from Amazon.  He immediately took a whirlpool bath and started soaking.  (When I say "whirlpool bath," what I did was put a plastic tote in the bathtub and filled it up with warm water and one puppy, so he could soak soak soak.)  I used a small wet rag and began working on his crusty, scabby head, lightly removing all the dead skin and dried pus I could.  

Listen, I know it's gross, but imagine how he felt.  



The goal of the soak is to remove everything "extra" that the demodex mites can be feeding on/living in.  Nasty.

While his body was soaking, I started working with a rag and some shampoo in slow circles on his head.  I let the shampoo sit and do its thing.  After about 15 minutes, I removed Job from the tote and washed him with the shampoo.  Here is what I used:  DermaPet Benzoyl Peroxide Plus Shampoo.  And I used it twice yesterday - the bath/soak time where I removed all the scabs/crusts, and then in the shower with me again before bed.  Each time, I dried Job with a hair dryer on low, everywhere.  Even between his toepads.


Here is Job after his second shower, relaxing with me in the man-chair.  Hopefully you can see the difference, too.

Because he's gained 0.4 pounds, I went ahead and bumped his Ivermectin 1% dosage.  Using the formula (weight in pounds divided by 2.2) x .06, he's now up to 0.59ml per day. 

(The first part of the formula converts pounds into kilograms, and multiplying by 0.06 converts the mcg of the recommended dose (multiply by 0.03 if you're using the low end of the recommended mcg).  I hope that makes sense.

This morning, he looks fabulous.  The sores are dried and - I don't know - just all-around better looking.  

Hooray!  

Lots more to come - I'm going to stick with the 2x a day shampoo regimen for a while, because it's working like crazy.  No more pustules - I'm sure he's got to be feeling great.  Today we should be getting some spray to use, too.  I'll update later.

Cherstin and Job, out. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Christmas for Job.

(Early edit:  Job's name may eventually change.  I came up with it this morning, considering all he's been through, but considering it's only 5:55am and everyone else is asleep, I haven't had a chance to discuss it with the rest of the household.  We'll see.)

We weren't looking for a puppy for Christmas, but sometimes everything falls into place in just the right way.  It was December 20th:  The stockings were hung (well, they were hung until Caleb pulled them down), the presents tucked away in the corner of the bedroom, shopping was (mostly) finished with a few last-minute items still on their way via Amazon (Caleb's blue rocks, for example).

My husband has been working long hours, and Bella - our lovely house pet - has been nothing short of depressed for the last few weeks.  Somehow, fate and luck were on my side when I told my husband, "We have to get a second dog, babe.  Bella is falling apart."  To my wondering ears, he said yes, and the thought of having a second dog home for Christmas overtook me.

I started my search where I last left off, looking for AKC-registered puppies that Aidan could use for junior showmanship, should he ever have the inkling again to give it a try.  I started again with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breeders, particularly one I'd been talking with in Texas.  His pups boasted a championship lineage, and were almost nauseously good-looking, with their wavy puppy fur, black noses, and big brown eyes.  I started looking at some local breeders, particularly a kennel here in North Port that raises Siberian Huskies.  Beautiful, pointy-eared puppies - little bundles of fur.  A perfect sized breed that would probably suit the family just fine.  Two little bundles of love from which to choose, and the sibes were less than half the price of the Cavaliers, plus they came with full AKC rights.

I perused her webpage for a long time.

And all the while, there lay Bella behind me on the couch, her chin resting comfortably on the arm, raising her eyebrow (rather than her head) every time I'd turn and look at her.  There's the perfect dog, I thought to myself.  Why would I consider anything but another pitbull?

And so I looked at pitbulls.  Beautiful, stocky puppies from purple ribbon parents.  Litter after litter of pot-bellied cuties, ready for a new home.  I turned again to look at Bella and thought about her past, where she'd come from and how she'd gotten to us.  The horrible events she must have endured to make it here, to our couch, to her family.

I remembered two little roly poly pups I'd seen on a rescue site a week or two ago - every demodex (aka - "mange") puppy I see, I can't help but think of Bella - and the pair I'd seen had been no exception.  They'd been picked up by a rescue:  I visited their Facebook page again, my eyes searching the bullies until I found him.

And there he was.  Three months old, covered in scabs.  Nearly bald.  Swollen feet.  Yet despite that, he was still wiggling his butt - the pitbull trait.

I messaged the rescue and told our story.  We still had ivermectin left over from Bella.  I called my husband.  I loaded up the boys.  The rest, so they say, will be history.


After getting the kids to bed, I took a shower with Job and gave him a bath using Duodo Calming Shampoo - not my choice, but I didn't have any Chlorhexiderm.  (It is now on it's way via Amazon and will be here tomorrow.)  I stayed in the shower with him and kept it on for about ten, maybe twelve minutes.  The chunks of scabs falling off him were horrible.

Before bed, I gave him his first oral dose of ivermectin.  I wanted to give him the medication in the morning, as mornings are typically easier to remember, but I couldn't stand the thought of those nasty mites having their way with him for even another seven hours.  At 21.2 pounds, we are working our way up to 0.578ml/day, so I started him off at 0.4ml.  From what the dogs tell me with their lemon-face, it tastes horrible, but he didn't have the energy to complain.  He laid down and went right to sleep in his crate.

This morning, I woke him up early - since it was too late to have a nice meal last night when we got home, I figured the poor guy would be starving.  He gobbled up about a half-cup of grain-free chow and had a bit of water.  He's very slow on his feet:  because of the constant licking and chewing, puppies suffering from demodex typically have swollen paws and pads.  It must hurt to walk.


With a full belly and my warm sweater, Job tucked down and is now sleeping peacefully on the kitchen floor.

Before I go, in "open letter" format, I had something I wanted to say to Job's previous owners.  It goes something like this:

Dear Job's previous owners in north Orlando, where he was found walking the streets before being brought to rescue and transported to Fort Myers:

Maybe you had the best intentions, but more than likely you did not.  Let me guess - you owned the sire and the dam and decided they'd make some cute puppies.  Maybe you didn't realize the dam carried an immune failure for demodex.  Now that you've figured it out, you probably still haven't gotten her fixed, have you?  No, you probably think that mange was just something the puppies must have "picked up," which is why it was probably pretty easy for you to dump this little guy on the side of the road somewhere.  Did you at least pick a parking lot, where maybe he'd be found by a nice family?  Did you leave him a cheeseburger or something to distract him while you drove away?

Don't worry.  Your puppy is safe now with us.  In another 8 weeks, you won't even recognize him.  He's going to have a wonderful life, and we'll always know that when we could have chosen any puppy we wanted, we chose him.  Or maybe, somehow, he chose us.

I'm sure you learned nothing from your ordeal, except maybe how easy it is to throw things away that don't suit you.  How many others turned a blind eye to a stray, mangy puppy?  Yet he survived - which means that there were some kind souls who tossed him some food along the way, too.  Maybe some passers-by, knowledgeable enough to know that mange isn't contagious, even gave him a few pats on the head before they had to get back in their cars.  How many complete strangers wished your puppy good luck?

He's found his way home.  Today is only day one, but it's day one of the rest of his life.  He's sleeping peacefully and soon the rest of the family will wake up and come out to tell him good morning.  He's got a family now, and life is going to be great.

Signed,
The Holtzmans



Wishing you all a Merry Christmas.  If you want to talk puppies, demodex, rescue, etc., drop me a line.  I'm more than happy to talk puppies all day long.  I'll be updating again soon, so stay tuned.  :-)

Cherstin, out.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Upon Graduation.

I don't want to get too sappy, too long-winded, or too sentimental - lately, I have been all of the above.  Two days ago, my husband came home early from work and turned on "The Price is Right."  When a lady had an opportunity to win a car, I cried.  I'm not sure if I got all caught up in her excitement or what, but it sort of freaked me out.

My husband found it endearing.

I took my last final exam today.  It was English Literature.  Although the fourteen-ish cups of coffee I had before the exam did nothing to help my chicken scratch penmanship, I was pretty confident in the way it turned out.  Leaving campus was bittersweet, and after a stop at the grocery store, I found myself in my office with absolutely nothing to do.

I jotted some notes on my white board for my most-recent novel I started in November, but then realized I owe some people a fair amount of gratitude, and what better medium than the old interwebs?  In no particular order, these are a few of the people who made it all possible:

My mom, who never gave up on me even after wasting hundreds of dollars in college application fees post-high-school, when I knew I had no intention of returning to school in any way, shape, or form right off the bat.  When I finally did start, it was at Valencia Community College - East Campus - on my 21st birthday.  (See, I'd already gotten all my beer drinking out of the way by that point - good plan!)  My initial plan of attack was to take the courses I was most dreading first - so I started with Comp I.  How funny now, in hindsight, that my plan is to teach English.

My husband and boys.  Although he hasn't been in the picture for my entire academic career, Richard and I met in March of 2010, just a few months after I returned to college full-time (August 2009).  He's been through the ups, downs, downs, further downs, "don't bother me, I'm studying" times, etc.  My boys have lived a single-parent lifestyle, from baseball to Taekwondo, because I couldn't make classes, practices, or tournaments.  Poor Caleb was thrown into it when he didn't come early over a Christmas break, but instead waited until January 27, 2011 while I was contending with a full-time courseload.  I still can't believe I completed that semester.  Incredible.

There are so many professors to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude that can only be repaid on the dedication page of my first novel:  since I'm running a bit behind on novel-writing (with now a grand total of five unfinished manuscripts), I'd better thank them here:

Dr. Ford - it was your Horror Lit class that got me to return to school, and your Creative Writing classes that fueled my addiction passion to write.  As if that weren't enough, it was also your off-the-cuff question, asking me if I'd ever considered teaching as a career, that woke me up to what I want to do with the rest of my life.  I'll never forget you.

Professor Masucci - your Short Story class and your World Lit class opened my eyes to what it really means to be able to teach a text in a way that students can understand.  Your classes and lectures were always fun, and you have an incredibly conversational tone that I really appreciate as a future teacher.  Your knowledge of the text, as well as being able to infuse outside material relevant to a particular author, setting, or time period, added a multitude of dimension to what would otherwise have been "just a science fiction story" or "just an epic poem."  You encouraged me to question the why, how, whats of other cultures and to ask myself what resonates in me when I read literature, and why.

To all my fellow students I've had the privilege of learning with/from, thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  I am so happy that many of us have stayed in touch, and sharing "real-life" with each of you has been/is still awesome.  I have some great memories, thanks to all of you.  Funny how most of us got together in that first Creative Writing class.  You made class fun, which made learning fun too.

And for now, you'll have to excuse me.  I'm off to plan the rest of my life.

Cherstin, out.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Just how rough is a rough draft?

One of the biggest hurdles I have faced in trying to write a novel starts with the first paragraph.  Exactly how "rough" should (can) my rough draft be?

Whether you're a pantser or a planner, it doesn't matter:  all roads converge when we each sit down and begin pounding out our stories.  It's more than just the "inner editor."  It's more than just wanting to replace a word or phrase here and there.  It's the question of doubt that begins to seep in when you look at something you've written -- in draft form -- and realize you aren't quite in your character's head yet, but more like dumping information onto paper (or into computer).

After 20 or so pages of this same slop, maybe you begin to realize that your "chapters" don't look that much different than your outline.  "Wait a minute," you're thinking.  "This is all just information.  No one is going to want to read this.  How come it's not coming out like (insert your favorite book here)?"

Let me stop you right there.

It's okay that you aren't happy with it.  Rough drafts are just that -- they're horrible.  They are a way to clear your head of all that stored up information so that when you go back to edit, you actually have something to edit.

Let me put it another way.  I'm going to grab a book from my bookshelf and completely butcher it for a second.

The first book I came across that wasn't a short story anthology or a small novella happened to be Stephen King's The Wind Through the Keyhole.  Hopefully SK won't mind my un-brilliant rendition of his most recent Dark Tower book.

Let's just start on page one.  The story begins,

       "During the days after they left the Green Palace that wasn't Oz after all--but which was now the tomb of the unpleasant fellow Roland's ka-tet had known as the Tick-Tock Man--the boy Jake began to range farther and farther ahead of Roland, Eddie, and Susannah."

Nice opening line, right?  Now let's imagine for a second this is in draft form.  Maybe if this was your book, you'd have started like this:

Roland, Eddie, Susannah, and Jake left the Green Palace, and Jake began straying farther ahead of the rest of the group.

What the hell is that crap?

Self, meet draft.  Yes, it's crap, but it's okay.  You got your point across.  You know now that everyone left the spot where the Tick-Tock Man was finally killed.  You know they left together.  You know that Jake is starting to get a little more independent.  Maybe you attribute it to his growing up.  Straying away from the group would be typical, adolescent behavior.

King's final product is much more pleasant to read, but it didn't start out that way.

Let's see what the next paragraph says, in King's words.

      "Don't you worry about him?"  Susannah asked Roland.  "Out there on his own?"
      "He's got Oy with him," Eddie said, referring to the billy-bumbler who had adopted Jake as his special friend.  "Mr. Oy gets along with nice folks alright, but he's got a mouthful of sharp teeth for those who aren't so nice.  As that guy Gasher found out to his sorrow."

Okay.  Not too shabby, Mr. King.  But let's imagine how it started for a second.

Susannah is worried that Jake is straying farther ahead.  She asks Roland what he thinks.  Eddie throws in his two cents and reminds Susannah that Oy is with Jake.

Do you see now?  It's okay if you're writing like the above "draft" examples.  The important part is that you're writing.  When your draft is complete, you can go back and doctor it up as much as you'd like.  You can work on a scene at a time.  No one expects your first draft to be pretty.

Didn't include any dialogue?  Don't sweat it - it can be added in as you revise.  Too much backstory before any action?  That's fine - you can take all the time you need to revise the order of the story once it is complete.  Yes, you may find that parts of what began as a structured timeline from point A to point B may have to be rewritten into dialogue.  Chapters and pieces may be shuffled around.  It's okay - this is what is supposed to happen.

Sometimes I think we just need to compare what we're doing to what everyone else is doing, and I don't know a whole lot of writers that are willing to share their drafts.  I've never seen a published novel with its companion draft sitting on the shelf next to it.  As a writer, it can be incredibly humbling to want to do something (write) with all your heart and soul but feel like you stink at it.

Everyone stinks at it.

Language has limitations.  A view of a sunset is always going to be better than a picture of a sunset, which is going to be better than someone describing a sunset.  That's life.  But if, as a writer, you don't even take the time to describe the sunset, there is no sunset, and isn't a description better than nothing at all?

Keep banging out those crappy first drafts.  Promise yourself (and that nagging voice inside your head) that no one but you is ever going to read your drafts, so who cares.  If you think your draft sucks, think how much better it is going to be once you have completed your novel and can actually sit down and revise.

Comments?  Questions?  Breakfast?  Click on the comment box below and drop me a line.  Bonus points if you want to share one of your crappiest draft sentences.   :-O

Edit:  If you're a fan of the Dark Tower books and have not yet picked up The Wind Through the Keyhole, I highly recommend it.  You can purchase a copy via Amazon here.






Tuesday, October 22, 2013

You owe it to yourself.

Failure is not an option.

You've heard it thousands of times, seen it shouted in a few made-for-tv movies, but you don't really believe it.  You've heard it so many times, in fact, that it probably doesn't mean anything anymore.  But just think about it for a second.

Failure is not an option.

The line is attributed to Gene Krantz, spoken from Mission Control to Apollo 13 astronauts, but it has been confirmed that Krantz never actually uttered the line during that time:  producers for the film came up with it based on interviews with Krantz.  It has become a catch-phrase used in education, NASA, used to describe key points on the public agenda spectrum.  It was the title of a movie in 2003, yet we still don't believe it, because we accept our own failures every day.

How many times have you tried to quit smoking?  It's hard, I know.  The first time you really really try.  You tell your friends you're giving it up.  You try until it hurts.  And for those who succeed, I applaud you, but for those who have failed, that one time turns into 20.  Each "attempt" makes it easier to fail.  Maybe the second time, you only try for 9 hours before deciding, "You know what?  Now isn't a good time.  I'll try again after the holidays."

Despite nifty catch-phrases like "no child left behind," children still fail every day.  And as parents, we tell our kids, "Well, that's alright buddy.  Try better next time."  In order to not make kids feel bad, everyone gets a medal for just showing up to a sporting event.  Because we don't want them to know what it feels like to fail.  And you?  Your friends rally around you every time you attempt to start writing, so they can be there for you when you throw in the towel a month later.

It makes us feel all smiles and rainbows when our friends ask us how our novel is coming along.  We tell them, "Well, something came up.  Now's not a good time.  I'm going to start working on it again when things settle down."

We want friends who say, "Oh, man," in a very sincere voice.  "Well, that's okay.  I'm sure the next time is going to be even better.  There's no sense in trying to do that when you've got this going on."  With a little pat on the head, we can let go our held breath.  Whew.  That was easy.  See?  I didn't fail, I just put it off.

Tell yourself that enough times, and you start to believe it.

Everyone has a story about how many times it took them to quit smoking, to start exercising, to start eating right.  Books have been written about how to follow a budget based on all the failures they endured ahead of time.  I was supposed to meet a man on Saturday morning at 10am - he was going to buy something I had listed on Craigslist.  I drove a half-hour to meet him - he never showed.  Never called.  Never answered my call.  How easy was it for him to tell himself, "Well, I'm a little busy right now.  I've changed my mind.  I'm sure she won't care if I don't show up."

In other words, "I'm just going to sit home and fail."

It has become too easy to fail.  We reward it.  We make excuses for it.  We excuse it in other people.  It is too easy to just not do it.  If you consistently tell yourself, "Now isn't a good time.  I'll write tomorrow/next Tuesday/next month/next NaNoWriMo," you are never ever going to get your novel finished.

Don't make excuses.  Failure is not an option.  If you don't write that book, one of two things is going to happen:  It's either never going to get written, or someone else is going to write something similar that becomes a smashing success.  Either way, you're always going to live in your old "Glory Days," talking about that "great book idea" you had, and how you could have written a best-seller "if only you'd had the time to write."

Well guess what - you did have the time to write.  The bottom line is that you failed yourself, and you failed your idea.  Anyone can come up with an idea for a book - hell, that's the easy part.  It takes courage and commitment to actually write it down.  All 90,000 words.  I read a blog yesterday that summed it up perfectly for me.  Reading this was like someone reaching down into my guts and tying my intestines in a big, pink bow.  Emma Newman wrote a blog titled "When just write is not enough."  I have never read a writing blog that touched me on such a personal level, because I am "that writer."  I have at least four unfinished manuscripts in my desk, cast aside because I couldn't deal with the fact that my clumsy writing wasn't able to reproduce the brilliant, beautiful story floating around in my head.  Instead of just getting the draft on paper and perfecting it later, I gave up.  Why?

Because not doing something is much easier than doing something.  If you don't try, you don't fail in your writing - and in one sense, that's true, but you've got to look at the bigger picture.  If you don't try, you have failed.  Doing nothing is worse than doing something and having that first draft stink.  So what if it stinks?  It's supposed to stink.  But if you don't ever get it on paper, there's nothing to revise!  Your beautiful story/character/plot is going to remain in your head forever, while you continue to lie to yourself to make yourself feel good:  "I had a great idea for a story once - I just never got around to writing it."

Bullshit.  You had a great idea for a story but you never followed through.  There is a huge difference.

Don't fail yourself.  Don't fail your story.  Make failure not an option.  There may not be a next week/next month/next year.

Don't be so touchy-feely with your failure, and quit rewarding yourself for nothing.  Don't give yourself so much credit for simply having an idea.  An idea is not a novel.  There are no awards given for simply having an idea, and if you don't have the courage to at least try to follow through, you're idea is going to remain in limbo until you die.  Or until you forget it.

And really, which is worse?

Write your novel.  Write it this November.  Write it tomorrow.  Don't forgive yourself so easily for giving up, because some day you're going to regret it.  Get back to a time when "failure" was a stranger, rather than the acquaintance lurking next door.  I promise you, we aren't going to regret it.