Monday, November 11, 2019

What Is Success?

The other day, a friend of mine was talking about things you should do to be successful. Fairly standard things...make your bed every day, keep your car clean, read your Bible every day, live debt free, serve your way to the top. And I was all "why am I not successful?" Because I do these sorts of things. (Can't say I've served my way to the top, per se, and I know I don't always have the right attitude when I serve, which kind of misses the point, but part of why I don't make very much is because I tend to undercharge/give things away, and I'm always really uncomfortable being at an event and not working.)

And then it hit me: I was defining success by the world's terms. I was defining it by how many dollars enter my bank account every month, by the fact that I've never been anywhere close to the New York Times bestsellers list, by the fact that my music studio remains small, by the fact that I haven't written well enough to publish another novel in years...

But being rich and famous isn't success.

And it isn't even really what I want, when I think about it. Success isn't measured in how many dollars are in your savings account, or how high your book is on the Amazon bestsellers list, or whether anyone of importance ever knows your name.

Success is living fully for God every day of your life.

I know I've written similar posts before, but this is just something that hit me again the other day. Because I know it in my head, but I don't always (often) live it in my heart.

The more things don't go the way I wanted them to, the more I doubt. The more I struggle to trust that God has a plan that is better than mine. I thought I learned that earlier this year. Apparently not. It's probably something I'll keep learning throughout my entire life. I've been frustrated and angry and bitter. I had to get my heart right with God. And ask Him to give me trust in Him, because I can't do it myself.

Because my life doesn't look like what I thought a "successful" life should look like. But just because I don't make anywhere close to enough to live on from book sales doesn't mean I'm a failure as an author. Just because my music studio is small doesn't mean I'm a failure as a music teacher.

If I'm touching other people's lives, showing them God's love and shining His light into their lives, then I'm successful. And not because of what I've done, but because of what God does through me. 

Success is surrendering to God.

Not being rich and famous. But living fully for God every day of your life.

Making my bed every day and living debt free are good habits that teach me to be a good steward of what I've been given. But if I think doing those things is going to put me on the New York Times bestseller list, I've missed the point.

Putting God first in my life won't necessarily make me successful in the world's eyes, but it will make me successful in God's eyes. 

And that's what truly matters.

Monday, November 4, 2019

I Hadn't Intended To Do NaNo (Again)

About a year ago, I had decided never to do regular NaNo at all, and never to do Camp NaNo again. I had some good reasons. 

First, generally speaking, I'm not a particularly fast writer. I didn't think it was humanly possible for me to write 50,000 words in 30 days. But then last April happened. I used Camp NaNo as motivation to get the second draft of Acktorek finished (and rewrites for the third draft started), and I managed to write roughly 70,000 words* in 2/3 of a month. A second draft, yes, but mostly new material. Including several 7,000+ word days. It was insane.

*I can't remember my exact stats, and all the stats from last April were lost in the NaNo website transfer, which I'm not happy about, so I can't verify the exacts.

So clearly, my reason for not doing regular NaNo was invalid. If I work hard enough and focus hard enough, I can write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Second reason, and my reason for deciding not to do any NaNo again, is that I get obsessed with stats. Anything with numbers, actually, whether it's word count, my personal budget, population statistics for my worldbuilding, birthdays and age gaps, or literally anything you can convert into numbers. Which is weird, because the only school subject I liked less than math was Latin. (Algebra reviews were kind of fun, though, if only because it gave me a break from geometry proofs. And multiplying and dividing fractions can be cool.) My stats obsession contributed to fluff sections in my writing trying to make word count, and, combined with multiple other factors, did damage to my writing quality.

And, unfortunately, my tendency to obsess over stats and other numbers still 100% exists. So that's always a worry that I'll have. However, it's all in having the right focus. If I'm just trying to make word count, that's a problem. But if I'm using NaNo simply as an incentive to finish writing a book, it's a different matter. My April Camp NaNo work doesn't have a lot of fluff to make word count. In fact, I started working on an alternate version of a section for draft 3 at the end of NaNo because I'd finished the book before I hit word count.

So I've decided to do NaNo this November. My first regular NaNo. And I'm not even a rebel for continuing work on an already begun draft. :( 

What am I working on? Acktorek 2. Which needs a better working title, but anywho. I wanted to get the book at least half written by the end of the year, and I estimate that NaNo should get me into the climax, at which point I should be home free. I'm learning more about who Emma and Mitchell are in this book (worldbuilding Mitchell's home also helped), and I'm going to use what I've learned to go back and revise/rewrite book 1. Then rewrite book 2. And then I want to draft a book 3. Because I want to make this a series. And somehow fit in other series/standalones in between. Especially now that I know I can write pretty fast when I really set my mind to it. Maybe I won't win, and that's okay, but if I've at least got myself past the midpoint of the book, I'll be happy. And if I finish the book, I'll be even happier.

I'm doing NaNo. And I'm absolutely going to be watching Month of the Novel for, er, inspiration?

P.S. This post was written and scheduled on NaNo Eve (if that's not a thing, it is now), so by this time, I'm hopefully not flailing in a sea of words.