Happy April, Happy Camp Nanowrimo!
I used this camp to finish up my One Room School House inspired novel from Nano2020. I learned this month that using camps like this can be called NanoFINmo (National Novel Finishing Month). I’ve been posting on Instagram, and I have felt part of the Nano community.
My word count goal was to reach 25000 words (Over the 50000 I wrote in November), and my primary goal was to finish the story by going through the rest of my outline. I achieved all of those things yesterday.
Finishing this novel was a joy. It came really easily to me — much easier than when I finished my first first draft. I chock this up to being much much better prepared with a top notch outline (thanks to help from Rachel Batemen and Second Star Books https://secondstarboutique.com and Preptober). I also think I enjoyed writing because I would actually enjoy reading this book. I even think I would enjoy watching a movie or short television show with this story.
I still feel like my brain is morphing more an more into a writer’s brain. I’m still having dreams that give me ideas for new stories. I am watching television and movies with a different ear. But the most important change is I can really see myself doing this. I think I can be a published author someday, and maybe someday soon.
But that doesn’t keep me from having just as many bad thoughts.
Yesterday, after I achieved these goals, I spent the rest of the day in a state of sadness, anxiety, remorse, shame, and resentment.
The Toxicity of “What’s Next”
One of my favorite episodes of television is “Frasier’s Edge” Episode 9 from season 8 of Frasier. It is kind of a silly episode to call one of my favorites, but it hit me, and I think about it frequently.
In this episode, Frasier Crane finds out he is going to receive a lifetime achievement award, and gets a congratulatory bouquet of flowers from his former teacher and mentor. The note on the card said, “You must be very proud.”
In classes Frasier fashion, he gets first upset, then eventually distressed by this. He thinks a more appropriate sentiment should have been “I’m proud of you.” This causes him to visit his old mentor and confront him about it.
Being the friend that says “I’m proud of you”
I think we are conditioned into believing it is awkward to tell our friends “I’m proud of you.” At the very least, we are conditioned to think that it should be only said at very important landmark life moments.
I have done a lot of work in shedding those ideas, and I find myself being the friend that says I’m proud of you. In fact, I said it to 2 different friends this week before knowing I would be writing about this. Once in regard to a friend starting a pie baking journey, and once to a friend who is looking for a job that suits her personality, but also taking a breath before jumping into anything.
It’s not always easy being the friend who says “I’m proud of you,” not only because it can feel awkward, but also because it often feels like a one-way street. But it’s important to do it anyway. The more I make it normal to express being proud of someone else, the ore likely someone will one day say it to me. Right?
Back to Frasier
Even though it comes out that his teacher had his secretary send the flowers and thus write the card, Frasier finds himself in a bit of an emotional crisis. Although he has achieved something big, he feels empty. He has used psychiatry as a means to keep distance between himself and the rest of the world.
It all culminates in a role-playing exercise where he takes a call from himself, and finds he isn’t able to help himself with all the tools he has honed his entire life.
(This episode also has A+ comedy from Martin trying to make sure Niles isn’t too jealous of Frasier, and Roz trying to make sure Daphne isn’t gaining weight due to depression, but finding out Daphne is happier than Roz will ever be.)
The “punch line” of the tale is when Frasier goes up to accept his lifetime achievement award. He says
“Thank you for honoring my life. I just wish I knew what to do with the rest of it.”Frasier Crane, “Frasier’s Edge”
This episode aired when I was a Freshman in high school – I probably watched it on reruns, but something about his acceptance speech always stuck with me. I have always needed practice in enjoying the present. There is less resistance when you revolve your life around achieving something in the future. Being in school made that easy, because there were always finals and projects to work on, There were always deadlines and degrees to work towards. But during those times, I found myself very unhappy. I was constantly looking forward for this miserable phase of my life to end so I could move on to something better. I was wishing my life away.
Then, when I achieved something, no amount of celebration could have made up for the misery I put myself through, so nothing ever felt like it was really celebrated. So it was onto the next thing.
Stop Asking “What’s Next”
Here, Kati Morton talks about how terrible it is that we keep asking “What’s Next.” We don’t give people a chance to celebrate what they have achieved, or rest after having achieved something. We are always asking, “What’s Next.”
Finishing a first draft is just the beginning – there is a lot left to do. Revisions, editing, sending to beta readers, finding agents, editors, and publishers, getting published. It is hard to celebrate what feels like just the first small step in a series of many.
I also find myself thinking “What if I get a book published? What then?” I am already anxious about that, and I haven’t even finished this project. It also leads me to believe I won’t celebrate if and when this book gets published. This is, of course, coupled with the fear of never being thought of as an author by the people in my life, but that is another issue altogether.
As usual, I don’t have any good insight – I am the clearly not the person to go to if you are trying to learn how to celebrate your achievements as a writer, but I still want to encourage you to write for writing’s sake, and to celebrate for yourself. Make a cake. Buy yourself that pair of flip flops you want. Take the day off and go for a walk. BRAG. Rub it in people’s faces. Make sure you are proud when you put your head on your pillow.