Failure and the NaNoWriMo Writer

We’re ten days in. One third of the sand has run out of the glass. I hope you’re a good chunk in.

I decided. Time to set aside the showman’s tall, tall hat and simply work the keyboard, pouring blood and ink into the creation of worlds. It didn’t matter if at the end of November I’d shed one world from my veins or a cacophony of little earths with their own stories. Every night in November I would return and write again. It was past time.

I wept to create.

Ten days in. Ten days that were meant to respark what I had lost since my little worldseed was born. Ten days toward more worlds, breathed into being, nurtured in the golden light of syllables carefully selected and precisely arranged.

Care to guess how far I’ve gotten?

One thousand words.

That’s it.

If you aim to get a novel out during NaNoWriMo, you need over 1600 words a night. I’m less than a tenth of the way in to what I meant to be at this point.

What happened? How have my worlds turned to ash before they were even created?

Ah, my friends. My depression has struck.

Sometimes I can harness this blessing of a hollow heart to create dark worlds that somehow cling to hope with fingertips rubbed raw in desperation. Sometimes I can weave through the cave and vomit a voyage of discovery onto the page.

Not this time.

This time I am simply exhausted. I push through the day. Oh, my days have been good. Depression doesn’t care, though. It simply rips down the joy of the day and erects monuments to gray nights. And when I finally arrive at my keyboard to write for fun, to allow worlds of words to be birthed, I stare.

White pages mock me. With every blink, the cursor says, “You’re not worthy. You’re not good enough to make people out of sentences, to forge emotion out of clauses and nations out of paragraphs. You are not worthy.”

And that cursor is right.

I am nothing.

I fake it so well, of course. And I have poured my heart into the word processor so many times before, but what’s my heart? Just another fake part of me, a mask used to cover up the truth of my shames and my failures and my guilt.

Every writer is a liar.

It’s not a new thought, but when the depression decides to visit, when the glum decides now is the time to overpower its little slave, it is the only thought.

I am not good enough.

I don’t even have enough energy to snarl in defiance. I close my eyes and allow the accusation to soak through my ink-stained bones.

I don’t have a happy ending for you. My depression has not been cured. I still am not writing.

Or maybe I am.

These words are mine, after all.

And in my calling as a pastor, I write every single week. Sermons and Bible studies and papers on depression itself. I have that other blog I also regularly write for.

I miss this, though. I ache to create stories.

My friends, do you understand this struggle? Do you get it when the taste of this world does not fulfill? When there is truth buried in words and chapters?

It is days like this when I must fight to marinate in stories that are not mine. When the novels that pile my nightstand provide solace. Even here, though, it’s not enough. I need a story bigger than anyone has every written before. I need to see something so much larger. I need syllables that spell out reality, that remind me who I am.

That remind me whose I am.

For the joy set before him, Christ Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame.”

I don’t need a redemption story.

I need the redemption story.

I need to be redeemed.

I need a story that reminds me that when depression sucks away my ability to write, it does not mean I am written out of the Story.

I don’t know when I will write again for the joy set before me. I don’t know what worlds will come.

My stories are not the important ones.

I am part of something so much bigger.

And my story, though written, has not ended yet.

And so I cling the that story, one I didn’t write, but one I was written into.

And perhaps the Writer of that story will see me write again.

Published by Jon

Jon lives in Kentucky with his wife and an insanity of children. (A group of children is called an insanity. Trust me.)

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