no shrinking violet

words by e. spalding

I finished the first first draft of the first chapter of a novel this morning!

Word count currently sitting at a very modest ~6,500 words, with so very many left to go before the finish line is even in sight, but I think what I am most proud of with this particular accomplishment is how steady and incremental process made it possible.

I decided, a little over a month ago while I was nearing the end of my mental health leave from work, that I would do everything in my power to write just 100 words a day towards a novel. That’s it; 100 words at minimum every day, no matter what, and I would work on making these words appear for just an hour each morning. When that hour was up, or when I hit my word count minimum (whichever came first), I’d close out of Scrivener, put the project aside, and not think about it at all for the next twenty-four hours.

And… I did it.

Non-draft words were research-related earlier in the month. Consistency also not great early on.
…but by June I really had hit my stride, and only missed one day.

I wasn’t 100% consistent; the stats above show that pretty transparently, but what they also demonstrate is a clear commitment to trying again every time I faltered or struggled. Some days (here’s looking at you, May 26 and 27), I just could not get the words to come together the way I wanted them to, and didn’t meet even my minimum required output before my hour was up and I had to call it quits for the day. On other days, as soon as I hit that word count minimum, that was it, I was done, extracting another word out of my brain was akin to pulling teeth, but when I walked away from the project for the day it was nevertheless with a sense of modest accomplishment, that I had kept my word to myself and made progress towards a goal that meant a lot to me.

And then there were days like June 22 and 23: ~800 words! And subsequently, almost 600 words! All accomplished roughly within that hour I set aside for myself in the morning before starting my day job, and many of those words such a delight to write that stopping myself from continuing was nearly as challenging as getting started had been when this process began. But I did stop, and I put the project away again, because this steady, incremental, consistent progress is far better for me than just the occasional day here and there throughout an otherwise creatively barren year where I manage to write a deluge.

All this to say, Self, well done. Good job! I am proud of you, Self, for reclaiming hours from your day to devote to the work that has always been central to your–our–identity. And I am extremely excited to see what we will have to share with the world when June 24, 20201 arrives.

Anyway, enjoy this glorious piece of artwork I commissioned from my talented artist friend, Cami Woodruff, of mine and my husband’s two ragdoll cats, and our temporary foster gremlin, Georgie.

From left to right: our beautiful Mrs. Moo, her dopey son Jasper, and one small ground squirrel in a kitten suit named Georgie. Art by Cami!

some recommended reading

Late Night at the Low Road Diner,” by my dear friend Frances Rowat, published at Liminal Stories.

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