For whatever reason, I have very little problem getting myself motivated to write during NaNoWriMo. Maybe it’s the excitement of the event. Maybe it’s the absolute deadline, or the community support. Maybe it’s the fact that there’s something new to work on, something fresh with endless possibilities. Sure, there are off days, but the whole month is a thrill in itself. I look forward to it throughout the year.
But what about now, when it isn’t November? It’s April. And last month was March. And next month is May. In fact, there are 11 months of the year that simply aren’t November, which means there are 11 months when I need to be completely self-motivated to sit down and get those words written on paper (or, uh, the computer screen).
Right now, I’m struggling. I have no drive, no sense of direction, and no burning desire to get any of my characters where they need to be. I don’t even think it’s writer’s block, to be honest, because I know what needs to happen in both manuscripts, and yet I don’t feel motivated to take them there.
In short, I feel like I’ve failed before I’ve begun. I wonder if I’ve chosen the wrong path, or if this dream I’ve had of being a writer – which has carried me since I was 8 years old, if I remember correctly – was all a mistake. Maybe I’m not cut out to write. Maybe I wasn’t meant to do this. Maybe I’ve been wrong this whole time.
But it’s all I know how to do.
This afternoon, my husband sat me down in front of his computer screen, and brought up last year’s statistics for The Ancient Standard. Until this week, I hadn’t written anything new for that site since… well, nearly a year ago. Or maybe longer. Anyway, he showed me the traffic stats for 2008.
There were almost 50,000 unique visitors to the site, and about 84,000 repeat visits. That means that 50,000 people read my writing. And an awful lot of them liked it enough to come back for another go.
While I don’t particularly see that as “success”, I suppose it means that I shouldn’t go beating myself over the head with the notion that I’m a complete failure. Somebody likes my writing style. Some people want to read it, and then come back for more. For me, The Ancient Standard is like pseudo-journalism – because really, I’m reporting on events, or discoveries, or historical details that other people have already written about, and simply compiling information from various sources to produce what I hope is a brief but comprehensive article about the topic.
It’s not my original work, so I still can’t be confident that anyone likes my fiction, which is where my heart lies. But at the very least, I can take comfort in the fact that people enjoy my writing style, and that I’m providing what others perceive to be quality information in an entertaining format. And with all honesty, I can say I’m grateful for each and every visitor who reads my work.
Is it measurable success by my own standards? Not particularly. But does it at least quell some of the despair that has crept into my soul as of late? Yes, it does. I can feel a tiny spark of hope again… and isn’t one spark all it takes to light a fire?