Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Competitive? Me?

I write pretty fast, and now that I'm writing full time (or at least, the six hours the kids are at school, minus lunch), I should be even faster. So I kind of expected to blow through NaNo, and so far, I am, even though I slowed waaayyyyy down the last three days.

I'm only a couple thousand words over the goal now, but should surge ahead again during the week. I'm 40 pages behind my goal to finish the whole book in 30 days, but that's really a far stretch, anyway. I don't really write on the weekends anymore, and there isn't a compelling reason to finish the book that fast except to see if I can do it.

However, I find my ego soundly and necessarily deflated. I was pretty cocky the first few days, thinking it wouldn't be too hard to lead the pack of all the buddies I added to my NaNo buddy list.

SEVEN people got ahead of me this weekend. And it's driving me crazy. I must work harder, pound out those words. I MUST BE AT THE TOP.

Why? Well, it's definitely not because I need to be superior to my friends and acquaintances and my father-in-law's cousin. It's exciting to see all those word counts and know everyone is doing well. I'm really, really impressed with the person who has 18,288 words. I'm not going to be crowing about my word count and how great I am, and I never, ever want my accomplishments to cause anyone to feel bad about themselves.

It's a Capricorn thing, and I've had it all my life. In high school, I had a friend who'd become a mother at 14. She was in the top 15 of our class, like me, and we had a lot of the same courses. We were numbers one and two in the sophmore fundraiser (she got the stereo, thanks to her gigantic family). And I about killed myself joining club after committee after team, trying to keep up with her. It got to where my mother worried about my stress level and my boyfriend complained he never saw me before I backed off, accepted I wasn't going to match her, and just concentrated on myself.

About eight years ago my local chapter go a new member. For a while, she was following in my footsteps. I had a baby, she had a baby. I edited the chapter newsletter, she edited the chapter newsletter. I had another baby and agreed to be chapter vice president; so did she. I sold to a small press. She sold to a different small press. My first one closed, and I sold to a second. She disliked her first, and followed editors to a second. Then things changed. She started soaring within that realm. She sold title after title. Editors at bigger houses were saying good things about her work. I started to feel toward her like I'd felt toward my high school best friend.

Luckily, I recognized it and released the competitive drive. She's one of my closest friends now, and it doesn't bother me at ALL that she's contracted five books to Harlequin Spice and I'm still struggling to make my first big sale.

So I know how to keep my competitiveness in check. I think with NaNo it can be a good thing. It's making me work harder. I had to think about where I wanted my story to go while I was raking leaves at 7:30 this morning, rather than wait until I got to the computer. Tonight, if I haven't gotten far enough during the day, I need to write some more instead of watching TV. I have to stop editing, stop counting my words every ten minutes, and put in brackets instead of spending an hour researching Ohio alcohol server age laws and flights from Columbus to Boston.

I have a feeling I won't catch some of these people, and that's okay. It's much more important that in the end, I've improved myself somehow as a writer. If I inspire someone else the way they're inspiring me, well, that would be the molten chocolate drizzle on the organic strawberry crepe.


Trish Milburn said...

I SO know what you mean about the competitive streak, especially in high school. My best friend was valedictorian of our class, something I'd really wanted. But I had to admit defeat whenever I met Trigonometry. I still loathe that class.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Ooh, damned trig!

Glad to hear someone else is like me! Do you happen to be a Capricorn, too?

MJFredrick said...

LOL - well, you're kicking my butt and it's driving me bats!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

No, I'm not, Mary, you're chasing me higher, that's all!

MJFredrick said...