Eventually, a novel

For all the writers out there who made big writing plans this summer and haven’t achieved them (yet!?) I send a message of love and encouragement and a porcupine video:

My Particular Plan and its Current Status

I had high (but knowingly unrealistic) hopes that I could finish drafting the second half of my novel in May. I made the goal to write 25,000 words. By the end of May I had only written 15,000. Today, six weeks late, I made my 25,000 word goal. Now I’m realizing I need another 10,000 or so to really finish the whole draft. Right now, there’s a gaping hole in Part III.

Incentives to Keep Going

  • Writing friends. Danielle LaVaque-MantyJennifer Solheim, and David Ward! If I didn’t have trusted, amazing writing friends to share work, gossip, and drink, my writing would be much crappier. I know this because I wrote my first “novel” in isolation. By the time I realized I needed to share it with a real audience and went to some writing conferences with it, it was beyond help. I put it in a drawer and wrote two books of poetry (with support from the friends above plus several others) before trying another novel.
  • Animal videos. Danielle made up this June writing game where we sent each other an animal video every time we wrote another 1,000 words. At first, I was a little skeptical because I thought it might take too much time and be distracting. NOT TRUE! I’d say at least half of writing productivity this past month was solely to get the brag rights to another animal video. I mean, come on. Danielle and Jenn sent stuff like this: Teddy Bear the Talking Porcupine
  • Bigger rewards. I’m going on a week-long writing retreat with my friends very soon! We rented an awesome cottage in Saugatuck, and I can’t wait to have days to immerse myself sans Mom, job, and house responsibilities. Holy crap, I’d like to leave right now!
  • Biggest rewards. The work itself. I’ve created a whole world and characters that let me explore parts of myself and America that I needed to pay attention to. Writing should be a journey, and this novel has definitely taken me on one.

I hope if you’re in the midst of writing, that you’ll turn back to your work with renewed love and patience, and that you have or allow people into your life that will keep those renewals going.



Writing Progress Report B+

In my last post I made a 25,000 word writing goal for the month of May. I want to have a draft of the novel I started last summer and had to put away for the teaching year done by the beginning of fall semester.

It’s the 19th. How am I doing?

Well . . . first . . .

These are things that happened that affected my writing time this month. Is this a cop-out? No. This is a reminder that things always get in the way of your goals no matter how much you try to protect them. This is a reminder to myself that when things go wrong or need attention that these problems are momentary. Acknowledge and then refocus on the goal.

May Problem #1

My computer crashed. @#R%$T%^&. On a Saturday morning when no computer repair shops are open until Monday. @#$%$&^$$*&. They backed up my data, reinstalled Windows, and 6 days later I had an empty computer back that I had to refill.


May Problem #2

My cat, Lucy, is on a rampage.




In less than three weeks she has broken three water glasses and dumped water all over the book my son has been working on for school. I spent several hours of writing time one day blow drying each page separately to save his magnum opus, “The Terrorizing Spring.” It clocked in at 24 handwritten and illustrated pages + a 12-page rough draft. All completely soaked.

May Problem #3

School is never over when it’s over. I’m currently doing work for Sweetland, spent today at the AAEEBL conference, spent yesterday writing my conference presentation and writing a proposal for CCCC. There are also four students who haven’t gotten my written feedback for their work yet. (#shameface #imtrying)

May Problem #4

I joined twitter! If you need somewhere to go, you can follow me there: @babcockjwords

Belated Report: I’ve written 12,805 words. That means I have 12,195 to go. Not in the best of shape considering I can’t write on Sundays or Memorial Day because it’s Ambrose time all the time. So, I really have 9 days left. 1,355 each day. Do it.

(also, an empathetic xoxo to myself and to you if you need it)