Remember last April when I didn’t finish Camp NaNoWriMo? No, well I did and this April I did it again. Last time, I was merely OK with the failure. This year, I am actually glad I didn’t finish. Today I am going to talk about why I am very glad I failed at something I put a lot of value in.
What Happened in April?
If you have been paying attention here or on Facebook, you know my publisher closed down in the middle of April. This was a week before they were suppose to release my cover, gear up for publication, and start planning my blog tour. When they sent me all the work that had been done, I was surprised to see they had not made as much progress as I had expected. I had a decision to make: hold off to find a new publisher OR do this myself? If I did it myself, how quickly could I do it? Could I stick to the dates that I had been promoting for months? I didn’t know if I could, but I realized this was the challenge I wanted to take on. Writing took a back seat to learning something new and challenging myself in new ways.
Is NaNoWriMo an Arbitrary Goal?
I have talked in the past about my obsession with meaningless and arbitrary goals as a way to fill time when I am bored. Arbitrary goals help me when things get tough, but I struggle to give them up when I don’t need them anymore. I am not suggesting that NaNoWriMo is an arbitrary goal for me, but it is something I can successfully complete with ease. It has lost the thrill of a challenge and is more like a annual event. I use it to help organize my writing time.
I have been thinking a lot about how to now use NaNoWriMo to move novels forward. I like the process I have of detailed outlining in a month, fleshing out the details another month, going through drafts, and then focusing on editing and other readers. It is working really well for both Modern Persuasion and Phi Alpha Pi, but working with a publisher presented a new detail of timing: getting on their calendar.
Not everyone realizes what goes into publishing a book, especially when you work with a publisher. Most, especially small publishers, have a calendar of when their books will be published. Most take 1-2 years to go from contract to publication. Does it take that long to do all the work? Maybe, but it depends on the calendar and who got there before you. My publisher was tiny, focusing on just one book at a time. That meant, if I wanted to keep publishing a book each year, I had to get the manuscript to them in time to get the date I wanted. Phi Alpha Pi might not come out for a year, but I had to be nearly done so they were reading the completed manuscript soon. If they decided to publish it, then I could focus on finishing book 3.
Now I am both author and publisher (which is a full time job). I am on my own calendar. I have a year to polish Phi Alpha Pi and make it even better. I can work on the cover on my schedule. I can deal with internal details when necessary. I just have to keep myself organized and manage my project (I will talk about this another time). I can work on book 3 when I want because it’s 2 years away from publication, not one year away from submission.
What Will Book 3 Be?
When I was working with a publisher, I was aware of their needs when picking book 3. I was going to give them 4 modernizations of Austen novels. I had 2 done and I was working on a third. No, I wasn’t as far along as I hoped, but I felt confident I could get there. This mean ignoring novels that were much farther along. The problem was, April was suppose to be spent primarily doing a detailed outline of novel #3 and it wasn’t happening. I was far more interested in writing a short story to go with Modern Persuasion. I was far more interested in developing a collection of short stories about a small town dog park. I was far more interested in a stand alone novel that would be in the Elementals Universe. I didn’t know if my publisher would be interested in these books, but I felt a little locked into my plan for my publisher. I was serving the greater vision of my publishing plan.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited about that third Austen modernization and got some work done. I’m just not far enough along and if I tried to publish this in 2019 it would feel unfinished. Book 3, now that I am completely on my own schedule, is going to be something that is far closer to being finished, has my complete writing attention, and is the very first novel I ever wrote for NaNoWriMo. This gives me the right direction for July and November’s events.
Why Am I Glad I Failed?
For me, failure isn’t bad. Failure isn’t failure, it’s a way to learn. Here are the things I have learned because I failed April’s Camp NaNoWriMo:
- I can actually let go of an arbitrary goal with ease.
- I’m not Emma, I’m Mary…. I am OK with this, as long as I’m not Elizabeth.
- Designing a book cover is hard, but I am not terrible at it.
- There are many messages that come from an image of 2 people holding hands.
- Picking the right font for a book is a complex process.
- You can’t just use your print formatting for Kindle editions.
- My friends and family are pretty much the best.
- The Austen bloggers are freaking awesome.
- I can design a cover in a week!
- CreateSpace won’t tell you details about the problems with your cover unless you harass them. Then they won’t agree on what the problem is.
- I don’t think I could have done this much without SIPA and Mill Pages.
- I know how to set up a pre-sale on Amazon!
- I love Canva…
- Taking Project Management classes this year has been enormously useful!
- I should look at this as a full time job that requires my focus.
I am sure there is more, but I just can’t think of them. In the comments tell me: is there anything I am forgetting? How has the last 3 weeks been for you?