Progress Report: Nearly There


Yepper. Less than 8,000 to go, and only 1/2 day of work standing between me and a completed book.

I could probably even sneak out for Thanksgiving, but not if I want those last 8,000 words to be more than useless babble. The bits that are left require research. So home I stay, and fajitas I eat. Mmmm, fajitas.

For my fellow NaNo sufferers, who may be staring down the barrel of a seemingly-impossible deficit right now, I think that the encouragement from the Life After Faith appendix is appropriate:

Caucasian mountaineers had a proverb: “Heroism is endurance for one moment more.” What you’re going through may seem like it’s unendurable, but if you keep your focus on getting through for just one more minute, you’ll get through. It’s how people end up becoming heroes, and it’s how people end up with a reputation for being courageous. They’re not doing anything particularly remarkable. They’re just getting through for one moment more.

Survive enough of those moments, and you’ll find you’ve made it through. Even the worst times end. One thing I’ve learned in my life is that if I endure the bad times long enough, something good is waiting for me. Something changes. And it was worth holding on for.

Elie Wiesel, who survived the Holocaust and went on to become an eloquent advocate for human rights, knew more about despair than most of us ever will. “We have to go into the despair and go beyond it,” he said, “by working and doing for somebody else, by using it for something else.” If you’re feeling despair, probably the last thing you feel like doing is embracing it, but simply fighting it is exhausting. I’ve followed Elie’s advice, and found that by embracing my moments of despair in order to channel them into something else, using them as the driving force to help other people, has taken away their power to hurt me. When pain or despair are used to do something positive, when they become useful, they’re much easier to handle. They become almost welcome, and then one day, without my really noticing, they’re gone.

The Japanese have a wonderful proverb: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” It goes perfectly with Confucius’s wise words: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but rising every time we fall.” It’s hard, when we’re knocked flat by the agony of losing most of the things and the people who defined our lives up until now, to believe that we can ever rise again. But we can. If you look, there will even be a hand extended to help you back up just when you least expected one.

Finally, I’d like to share some excellent advice from St. Francis of Assisi. “Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Look. Just because I’m an atheist doesn’t mean I can’t quote a religious man who made a great deal of sense. And he’s right: by not trying to do it all at once, by taking things step-by-step, you’ll find yourself doing things you never thought possible.

Three days, my darlings. It can be done. And if you have to cheat, get drunk, and go on a 10,000 word stream-of-consciousness ramble that’s only remotely related to the book, well, so be it. Quantity over quality this time round. Don’t worry if it doesn’t really fit.

That’s what revision’s for.

Progress Report: Nearly There
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