A Word to the Struggling

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NaNoWriMo / On Writing / Quote / Video


Photo: Guy Le Querrec (1965)

Well, I completed the 50,000 word goal for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), so I will be around again. It was an interesting and worthwhile excursion, regardless of whether I someday actually wrestle a finished work from those 50,000. One of the tidbits I encountered during the process was the following quote from the jazz pianist Bill Evans regarding the difficulties faced in his development as an artist and the rewards of those difficulties that I kept in mind as I slogged through the writing exercise:


I always like people who have developed long and hard,
especially through introspection and a lot of dedication.
I think what they arrive at is usually…deeper
and more beautiful…
than the person who seems to have that ability
and fluidity from the beginning.

I say this because it’s a good message
to give to young talents
who feel as I used to.

You hear musicians playing with great fluidity
and complete conception early on,
and you don’t have that ability.

I didn’t.

I had to know what I was doing.

And yes ultimately
it turned out that those people
weren’t able to carry their thing very far.

I found myself being more attracted to artists
who have developed through the years
and become better
and deeper

from the website All About Jazz

*  *  *




    • Congrats back at you. As I was just replying to someone else, it is more of 50,000 words toward a novel, not of a novel. Closer to a bunch of stream of consciousness fragments that could be used to create a 30,000 word novella. I don’t know if I could piece together a lengthier work. 🙂


      • It’s still 50 000 words. If you prune judiciously you should get your novella out of it. This is an epic that I’m writing and if I don’t keep at it I lose touch with the different characters. NaNo was a good excuse to plug away at it, a little every day.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have only two main characters (and possibly a third supporting character) and trying to keep track of them (maintaining a consistent personality and sensibility within the scope of the narrative) was exhausting. I am pleased with what I did generate, but I just want to avoid leaving the impression that I wrote an actual novel. And all the best with the epic. I suppose one can say writing anything of considerable length is in part about finding little “tricks” like NaNoWriMo to get to the next bend in the road, and then to next bend after that, and then the next bend after that.


  1. Good job. I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo, but maybe 2017 will be the year. It wouldn’t be easy for me, but that’s probably why I should. I’ve been working on a mystery novel for over a year and still haven’t reached 50,000

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of my mantras was that it was 50,000 towards a novel (or novella), not 50,000 of a novel. Right now it’s a downright garbled mess of fragments. I wouldn’t call it a first draft, but the early makings of a first draft. I spent a lot of time cringing as I pounded a paragraph or a few lines of dialogue, wondering where I was going with it all, just trying to get another 50 or so words toward the word count. But in the process, did end up going into an unique place I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. Just have to be willing to toss the 1000 words or so that led up to that good sentence or two. Keep plugging on that mystery novel. Maybe just thinking you’re tinkering with it in prep for Nov. 2017 might help you get in a “place” to get it to where you want it to be. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Duke Miller says

    Yes, this is a good observation. Here is an extra burden: I’m writing while ill. Do I get double dispensation?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yay! Well done! I failed at my mission to make it 50,000 exactly with 12 extra words. There should be a word trading scheme. Thanks for the great conversations on the NaNoWriMo site – you inspired me at times and also made me feel a little less alone in the 30 day endevour. Looking forward to reading whatever you share from your 50k.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations for completing your 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month.
    I did miss you.
    All the best for the month of December may your writing never end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. Missed being around. Longest I’ve been away from the WP community for over a year and a half. Here’s to December and the coming new year. All the best to you, too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • That sounded rude. I meant I just saw it as a very stressful experience and I have enough of those without inflicting one on myself. 😉 I think those who take this on are pretty awesome. Perhaps in 2017. We’ll see…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Didn’t take it a rude…Those times I pondered it, I basically came to the same conclusion regarding the stress. It not something to drag oneself into doing. No point in that. Some people go travelling through in some remote and dangerous places around the globe, which is cool, but I say to them also “Never wanted to. Maybe someday…” 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on your 50,000 word count! That’s a great accomplishment! I read the comments above, and even if you have a garbled mess of fragments, you still did a lot of writing–and I’m sure there are some of those fragments that you like and that you can expand upon (if you want to).

    I like the quotation, and I’m listening to “Peace Piece” as I type this. It’s very soothing, and then comes the dissonance–and the question at the end. Much like life, I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thanks. one of the “things” i decided to tackle, or at least meditate upon, in the work was the consonance – dissonance ‘binary’ – as with the case with “Peace Piece” (which was an improvisational performance recorded in the studio), dissonance can be experienced as “pleasant”, thus constituting what we reflexively define as consonance…and what is it in a given sensibility that finds the dissonant attractive or alluring or soothing….life being what it is (and the times being what they are) – and so it goes. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • thanks…that it does, becoming a better person isn’t about getting it right the first time, but learning from failures and setbacks, and trudging forward to make more mistakes. 😉

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Congratulations on your achievement…wonderful comparison with the pianist. An artist leads a life full of struggle and an occasional breakthrough…as long as you enjoy the struggle it is all worth it, imo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • there is it seems a natural desire to eliminate struggle from one’s life. to find one’s self with the wave of a magic wand on easy street. To “learn” to embrace struggle, even seek it when it isn’t around, is key to an artistic sensibility.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations – that’s a great quote. I don’t participate in writing contests because it takes me so long to write anything. Even short blog posts can take me forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thanks…i hear ya, i can spend hours on a single sentence. it’s one of the reasons that i haven’t contemplated doing something like this before, and probably the key reason i am hesitant to dive back into it to begin editing the mess (which will probably take me a year to finish if i’m lucky). i was only able to do it because for whatever reason(s) i was able to let go of my internal editor-critic and just write…shifting the narrative midstream, changing a character’s motivation, and otherwise just going wherever my stream of consciousness was taking me in trying to get the word count. i know it will be a long time before i participate in something like this again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations on your 50,000 word goal. That is awesome! Also, Thank you for the quote. My dad always told me that there was nothing worth doing that wasn’t worth doing poorly at first. Good advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congratulations!! I’m all for those stream of consciousness bits; they are pure and blessed inspiration. Something “good” is bound to come of them, and the discipline you practiced will serve you well in discovering what it is. Bravo!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Woot! That’s awesome! Congrats. =)

    I am always stunned by people who can run off pages of text at a time, consistently, day after day. Heh. Perhaps I ended up with poetry because I can seem ‘prolific’ if I knock off 4 or 5 in a day… a total best left to count in words, rather than pages. And even then, usually under 500 of those.

    So… this is me doing my best “Wayne & Garth”:

    I’m not worthy!


    Liked by 1 person

  11. what a nice Bill Evans quote… makes me like his stuff more; used to listen to him play with members of Oregon back in the day in Greenwich Village.


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