A Milestone, Kind of

This is for Daniel, who tells me I don't blog enough anymore.

As of now, I am averaging 10,000 words a month in the novel I'm writing. That means, as of yesterday, I am just over 70,000 words. There's really just one problem with the whole thing.

I realized at about 40,000 words that what I was writing would never, ever see the light of day. I'm not talking about "first draft problems" or things that can really be fixed with any amount of editing. I'm talking about fundamental problems with the story I'm writing. This story can't be recovered except to be entirely replanned, rewritten and I don't mean like a second draft. It would be more like using scraps, fragments, of this story to tell an entirely new one.

So that's nearly half of my writing that I've now written knowing I would never show a soul. So what's the point?

This is the first time I've ever tried to write a novel. I've told myself for years that I couldn't do it. I didn't have what it took to write something so long, so involved. Even though I'm going to "waste" a lot of time and writing (though how can you really consider any of it a waste?), I think it's better for me to actually finish the thing than it is to start over and still not know that I can write a novel.

I think anything over 100,000 words will feel like a success. At this rate, that's October. From there, I can start a new novel, a better novel. One that I actually take some time to plan out. 

In case you're wondering, the biggest failure of it right now is related to story movement. Characters aren't forced to act enough. It's something I'm working on, but it's how I know the story isn't salvageable. There's 70,000 words of inactivity when there should be the threat of ... whatever closing in at all times.

I'm going to get there. I'm going to become more like the writer I want to be. For now, that means finding a sentence or two a day that might say that this experiment has been worth it.

Let He Who Is Without Pain Pass The First Stone

So I'm on my couch, where I've been for over a day now, waiting out the time until I pass a kidney stone. When you word it like that, it sounds like no big deal, but I have to say this is, as far as I can remember, the largest medical situation of my life. 

So it's July 4 and I'm talking on the phone with my mom and she's telling me about someone who had stomach pain and I suddenly get this sharp pain in my own. I hurry off the call and tell her I have to go to the bathroom, but I think I knew right away that this wasn't going to be a bathroom trip.

I laid on the bed for a while, hoping the pain would pass. You see, I've got healthcare that doesn't pay a thing until I reach the $6500 and I knew an emergency room trip would be expensive. It became clear pretty quickly that waiting wouldn't make the pain go away.

We went to a MedCheck first, which may be called a ReadyMed or something like that where you're from. You can go in and get checked out by a doctor without an appointment without huge emergency room fees. I wasn't there for more than 5 minutes before they referred me to the ER.

The long story short, I suppose, I have a kidney stone and for about 20 agonizing minutes in the hospital, I experienced the worst pain I've ever felt. Not that being at home has been particularly great either, but thank goodness for pain medication.

I know now that I could have theoretically not gone to the ER. Kidney stones are very rarely dangerous long-term. I don't know what I would have done if I had been in that level of pain for any more time. 

I tell you all of this to say that when it comes to a person's health and receiving care for it, it doesn't seem right to have to decide if it's going to be worth the cost.

Fur and Fireworks

When we adopted Maddy two years ago, my wife and I noticed right away that she was scared often. She's a big dog, something like 85 pounds right now, so seeing her climb to the top of the back of the couch to try to hide from thunder or the boom of fireworks is cute and sad in a way that's hard to articulate. You know she has nothing to be scared about, but you'll never able to convince her. You just have to sit with her while she shivers.

Last year, in an attempt to teach Maddy how to be a better social dog, we added another dog to the family. Melody is boisterous and playful and not afraid of much of anything, except for getting in trouble with us. When we first got her, she would run away every single chance she got. She also broke out of her crate more than once, ripped up some carpet in one of our rooms, and even chased a neighborhood dog around its own yard when she slipped out of her harness.

Today, we added a third dog to our house. We're calling her Maisy and she's already captured the hearts of every single person we've come across. She's a lot smaller than the other two dogs we have, but she's only 5 months old, so time will tell if we become an exclusively big dog house.

Here she is with some high-octane charm. (Her leg is shaved because she was just spayed and they had to use anesthesia)

Here she is with some high-octane charm. (Her leg is shaved because she was just spayed and they had to use anesthesia)

Now you might ask yourself, and maybe rightly so, why we'd try to add another dog when we've got our hands full already. Besides the obviously "look at that face" answer, I think I have another one.

Melody doesn't run away anymore. Maddy doesn't hide wherever she can when the winds pick up and a storm starts coming. By just loving them as best as we can, we're healing them, even just a little. It's obvious to say, but I know they're doing the same for us.

And when you have that, it's hard not to want more of it.

Not Just New

It is too easy of a reduction to simply label this the new year, to think about it for a moment and then dismiss it until the next one rolls around. It's a little hokey to set a resolution, I suppose, but I still do it every year. 

I've had some crazy ones in the past. I wrote five feature length films in a year. I wrote 52 short films in a year. I "taught myself" how to write comics by writing a few of them. It's nice every now and then to think about how far you've come, even if you can still see the starting line if you squint a little.

It's important now, though, as the year is new, to look forward at what we can run towards. Again, it's trite, but there's a reason people set resolutions now. It's an easy place to set a marker, to say I started this on this day. 

What can you start?

For a good portion of 2016, I tried to write a novel. I even got 12,000 words into one before I ultimately bailed out of it. It's a discouraging feeling to do that much work on something and then shelve it. Since then, I've been adrift, flitting from project to project, never getting more than 1,000 words into anything.

My New Years resolution, for better or worse, is to stick to an idea and see it through until the end. It could be the worst novel ever written, but I'm going to finish it. I need to believe that I can still accomplish these outlandish goals.

I need a finish line I can run towards.