How Long Left

by Flynn on November 8, 2011

I opened my spreadsheet for tracking progress on the rewrite of this WIP and it reminded me of another Excel worksheet. In the Foreign Service, you’re always planning your next move. Your next destination is always on the horizon. A worksheet to monitor your timeline has been passed around. Almost all of my friends use it and I have no idea where it originated. It tracks exactly how many minutes, hours, days, years (How Long Left) you have to go at your current position. Depending on how wonderful or not-so-wonderful your current home is usually what determines when you start counting down.

It’s my opinion but…it’s an awful way to live. Always working towards the next place, never enjoying today to the fullest because you always know you’ll be moving on. It’s hard to invest yourself in a place when it’s role in your life is fleeting.

And yes, this is a writer’s blog so, of course, it all comes back to writing. I’m counting down on my WIP. My excel worksheet shows me that I have completed 85% of this rewrite, 15% or 10,286 words left to go. According to my current speed, I’ll be done in a matter of days. That’s only one way of looking at it though. My Hero has to convince the girl he’s going to marry that he’s the one for her. He still has to convince his mother that he’s making the right decision. What about my heroine? She’s worried that marrying her first love might hurt him in the long run, especially if his mother continues to disapprove. There’s also the baby she’s about to have, a custody agreement to be settled on, and a sober mom to help keep, well, sober. Numbers. Pie charts. They are most assuredly not why I got into writing.

So yes, there’s a role all of this number-tracking has in our writing. But on this eighth day of NaNo, it’s my wish to you to remember the real goal. Get the story down. Keep moving. Don’t stop. Keep your eyes on the prize but don’t forget that beyond the 50,000 words, your goal is to have told a story, a complete story by the end of November. (Unless you’re only doing this to wrack up the words. In that case, rock on with your bad self!)

P.S. In case you were wondering, I haven’t opened up the How Long Left spreadsheet since we left Mexico the first time. As all of our friends wait on their assignments, I’m happy with the knowledge that we are guaranteed (or as guaranteed things can be in this life) another year before bidding. Until I must, I’ll only be counting the days to our Disney vacation and Christmas. 

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