Failure and other F-Words

Did I succeed or did I fail? It is a matter of perspective. Given my course load for grad school and the responsibilities of being a single parent, I set a small goal of 25,000 words for Nanowrimo. I managed that. So success?

It doesn’t feel like it. It was tough watching other people’s word counts climb as I spent my time writing papers on thematic conflict and duality as a literary mechanism. It felt bad not making it write-ins, being on the outside of all the inside jokes.  Failure to meet a word count is bitter pill to swallow when your girlfriend is the municipal liaison, the person whose job is to badger people about their word count. Although in fairness to her, there was no badgering.

I don’t like watching other people succeed at something, knowing I can’t do it myself. It builds a sort of artistic jealousy that is fairly common in writing. It is generally a good thing. Your friend sells a story and you think it could have been you. Another reveals a new book cover, and it could of been you. You use it to drive you. In a race, no one tries harder than the person in second. In this case, person after person finished writing a novel, and it could have been me.

This isn’t competition, and I am happy for everyone who made it. Happiness and jealousy are often handmaiden’s in the arts. In the end, I just have to hope that the next couple of years with writing as a secondary focus to my education will be a worthwhile sacrifice, and that the experience will make me a better writer.

I certainly hope so. As much as I have enjoyed my classes and think I am producing good literary criticism, my creative writing is getting left behind, and I don’t like it.

The good news is that I think what I did writing of Heaven’s Edge is promising. It has a ways to go, but I think it has a chance to be a fun book. I look forward to finishing it, even without Nanowrimo.

Jack Campbell, Jr. is a dark fiction writer in Lawrence, KS. His writing has appeared in various venues including Twenty 3 Magazine, Danse Macabre, and Insomnia Press. He writes about reading, writing, and life on his blog at

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