Monday, April 4, 2011

Contracts and Stupidity

I’ve been at the keyboard a lot this week. My bet with P.E.T.A, which was made into a contract and mediated by my sister, is over. I learned a few things about myself, and my writing this past month. Let me break it down for you.

Week 1: Full of hope and motivation, I sat my happy ass down at the computer and plugged away on a few old projects. Words flowed here and there, but usually only to the tune of about 500 per day. Not too terrible considering how little daily writing I had been doing in the previous weeks. I’m already a bit behind, but hey, daily writing is what counts.

Words Written: 3,500
Words Remaining:  23,500

Week 2: I can make up my word count tomorrow; maybe even do some at work if nothing breaks. I’ve got plenty of time. After all, I did NaNoWriMo once, and had to get 4,000 a day for a week to finish. A movie after work? Some MMA fights? Sure, I have a social life and I’m a writer, look at me go.

Words Written: 1,215
Words Remaining: 22,285

Week 3: Everything is broken, nothing works, and my world is an explosion of old eMacs and hatred. Pfftew…. Sizzle, whirrrrrr, clunk. Hey Tony, we need you to set up an entire lab of 28 computers and find a way to make 20 DOS applications work in Windows 7. On each computer. Oh, your back is in the middle of a flare up? That’s fine; we have kid’s strength drugs to help you with that. In the far distance, a printer attacks a child, a TV falls on a duckling, and a dead mouse is in the power supply.

Home is my only retreat from spiteful technology, or so I thought. Sitting in my room, Cornelius Funk, my computer, spins his fans for the last time.

Words Written: 0. Zilch. Nada. Unless you count the 12 words I scribbled on the underside of a computer heading for the recycling concentration camp. They shall not be uttered here. This is a family blog.
Words Remaining: 22,285

Week 4: Spring Break, in which I testify that there must be a loving and caring God for such a gift as a paid week off. Coming after the worst work week I have had in recent memory, it was glorious. Now, my brain tells me that I owe slightly more than 3,000 words per day to pull this off. A few days of puttering around 1,000 words, and I am left with 5,000 words a day for three days, and I bet you never saw this coming, 7,000 words per day for the next two.

Focus is a hell of a thing when you have a true and costly deadline. For the next two days, I am a machine. I write and chip at the word count till my hands are bloody. That was actually from the cat, but damn, they were sore. That smell coming on the wind? That’s not Greeley (a cow town that so graciously sends its massive stank over to us on windy days), that would be me and my swollen brain. It’s gone the way of my old computer tower, and no longer functions as a body management system, but a word processor. In about 36 hours, I produced 14,000 words on a new novel project.

I defeated the bet at 11:53 pm on March 31st, proving once again that more than anything; I am a cheap ass and the best procrastinator on the planet. I’m sure some of you would like to challenge me in a procrastoroff, but like tomorrow, when you aren’t about to hit refresh at 4chan for six hours.

I also learned that despite my best intentions, when I break 4,000 words, my writing goes to pot. In doing this challenge I have made a mountain of product, for which will need hours more editing than intended. This challenge was to get me writing daily again. In a way it did, for that last week, but not in the way I intended.

If I am to keep doing this, I must find it within myself to schedule, plan, and work so that I am not just slinging words for an arbitrary number. I think I might be able to manage, considering what I just put myself through to save a couple hundred dollars. I’ve woken up the past few days, gotten on the computer and written. Sometimes I get my 1,000 or more, sometimes less, but forward motion counts, so long as I at least make an honest go of it.

Will I ever do this challenge again? Maybe, but I need to really assess what keeps me from moving forward. I have to figure out what I’m so afraid of. Is it judgment? Failure? I’m not entirely sure at the moment. I faced it all in this challenge. I defeated it even, but this month will show if I have learned anything from it.

Thank you everyone who supported me in this foolhardy bet. It was as fun as it was painful. Here is to 25,000 words for April, hopefully done over the entire month. 

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