The Sue Heck School of Perseverance

The Sue Heck School of Perseverance

We're a little over halfway through National Novel Writing Month, and I'm proud to say that I've kept on task so far. I had  a strong start and g0t well ahead of the daily goal of 1,667 words. An election here, a human rights gala to attend there, and I allowed myself perhaps one too many days of writing laziness. Hey, it happens to the best of us. But I've managed to get back on track and am hovering right around the suggested word count each day.

I must admit, some days are easier than others. In fact, I'm writing this blog to keep from having to open up my novel and force my fingers across the keyboard! Sometimes I need a little motivation: a glimpse at somebody else who's fighting the battle and not always winning, but at least getting out there and trying. A shining example of how to achieve such a lofty ambition is the character of Sue Heck on the ABC sitcom The Middle. Played with gusto by actress Eden Sher, Sue has tried – and unabashedly failed – at just about everything a teenage girl might try to tackle. Choir? Fail. Cheerleading? Fail. School news? Fail. Theatre? Fail. Dating? Let’s not even go there. But, again and again, she emerges…well, a failure…but she keeps on trying.

Here’s a montage of Sue’s journey through the slippery slope of adolescence, to the tune of Pink’s “Don’t Let Me Get Me.”

Unabridged optimism isn’t easy to sustain. Trolling around the forums on the NaNoWriMo site will illustrate that for you. They do this cruel thing over there of making your total word count visible to everybody. So if you're one of the lucky ones who already has 40,000 words in the can, everyone can envy you and aspire to be you. And if you're lagging behind and stuck in the 11,000-word range, everyone can be glad they're at least better off than you. That's how we work, isn't it? Envy those who have more than us and use others' misfortune to pump up our own egos.

Okay, maybe I'm being a little too cynical. The folks on the forums are super supportive of one another. It's really a beautiful thing to see. Writers in a town close to me are having weekly write-ins and celebratory dinners. How awesome. They're just a smidgen too far for me to make the commute on time, and I don't do well when I have any distractions around me while writing, or I'd totally be right there with them. (Hell, I don't even let my cats into the room with me most of the time.)

I'm proud of my fellow travelers on the NaNoWriMo road. I attempted this experiment hoping it would force me to carve out time each day to write, and so far so good with that one. I hope the rest of you are maintaing your motivation as we head toward the finish line. That reminds of another Sue Heck moment from the show, when she was determined to make the school's cross-country team and literally crawled across the finish line with a broken leg, covered in grass clippings and soaked from a rainstorm.

Hopefully on Nov. 30 I'm at least still standing as I break through the ribbon. And if not, as long as I get there, that's all that matters.

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