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Monday, November 9, 2009

Sail on, brave explorer!

BEHIND him lay the gray Azores,
Behind the Gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores,
Before him only shoreless seas.
The good mate said: “Now must we pray,
For lo! the very stars are gone.
Brave Admiral, speak, what shall I say?”
“Why, say, ‘Sail on! sail on! and on!’”

“My men grow mutinous day by day;
My men grow ghastly wan and weak.”
The stout mate thought of home; a spray
Of salt wave washed his swarthy cheek.
“What shall I say, brave Admiral, say,
If we sight naught but seas at dawn?”
“Why, you shall say at break of day,
‘Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!’”

They sailed and sailed, as winds might blow,
Until at last the blanched mate said:
“Why, now not even God would know
Should I and all my men fall dead.
These very winds forget their way,
For God from these dread seas is gone.
Now speak, brave Admiral, speak and say”—
He said: “Sail on! sail on! and on!”

They sailed. They sailed. Then spake the mate:
“This mad sea shows his teeth to-night.
He curls his lip, he lies in wait,
With lifted teeth, as if to bite!
Brave Admiral, say but one good word:
What shall we do when hope is gone?”
The words leapt like a leaping sword:
“Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!”

Then, pale and worn, he kept his deck,
And peered through darkness. Ah, that night
Of all dark nights! And then a speck—
A light! A light! A light! A light!
It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time’s burst of dawn.
He gained a world; he gave that world
Its grandest lesson: “On! sail on!”
- Joaquin Miller

When you're striving for a word count, exploring the great unknown territory of a new book, it's easy to get discouraged. It's tempting to give up because you don't know what comes next, or because this part is hard, or because you aren't where you wanted to be today.

Take the difficulties in stride.

Are you hitting a wall with NaNo? Not sure where to go next? Not sure if you can get the necessary 1,667 words in today?

Let it go.

Worry and doubt kill the creative spirit faster than anything I know. If you let your evil Inner Editor fill you with doubt you won't make it to the end. You will fail, if you quit.

We're in week two of NaNo. It's hard. We're hitting the point where so many people quit writing because they don't know what to do next. So.... kill someone, steal a necklace, let a wild pig run through the wedding, kidnap your character, land some aliens in the back yard, unveil a juicy secret, splatter blood somewhere, do what you need to do to keep writing.

When the writing gets tough, pull out your list of shiny things. Indulge in some scene description. Love on your character a little and let them talk about a favorite childhood memory.

Don't be afraid that some of this novel won't survive to the last draft. You need to know what the scene looks like. You need to know your characters. So what if you wind up chopping that chapter next year when you go to edit? At least you'll have the information saved for later.

Above all else, KEEP WRITING!!!!

1 comment:

  1. *likes*

    *wishes she had a wedding in the plot just so she could send a pig running through it*

    O:) :D