You Can't Microwave Success

Originally published Wednesday, 13 November 2013.

NaNoWriMo Day 13. 28,019 words down. 21,981 to go.

I'm beginning to write scenes in little blips and flashes.Getting bored, giving up and coming back. Trying to stay patient with the process and tie the plots, the subplots and the sub-subplots together.

Fiction is hard.


Success does not come in a microwave, it comes in crock pot.

That's what I keep reminding myself when the writer's life is stale and tricky. When it seems as though I've become the very worst version of the "starving artist" cliche. Or worse, someone who sits and complains about her lack of daydreamed fame and cleverness when the only thing she's really been doing is pushing words around on a page–rearranging stories, rather than actually creating them.

The biggest lie that I've been repeating is that I'm a writer not a storyteller.

I guess, what I mean is that it's "easier" to write about events that have already happened. It's so simple to talk about the world as we see it. As we've lived it. To talk about who-said-what over the tops of bistro tables and steam from coffee cups.

It's so much more difficult to see it through a hero you've dreamed up. And even then, she or he may be based off of one of your best friends...

But, I think all of us "crock potted" people---the nearly 300,000 of us writing some sort of draft in one way or another---needed to remind ourselves that we can do this.

That we are storytellers and writers. That we do have the ability, talent, drive to arc a story and its characters together. That we can bring plots and stories and people together, two by two, and send them on their merry ways.

And we do know the difference between an arc and an ark, thank you.

We also need to remind ourselves that nothing truly valuable comes quickly. Ironic, seeing as how a lot of us are in the midst of violently punching out a first draft of a novel in 30 days.

But, for those of us who have achieved, well, anything in our lives, we all know the best way to get anything done is to make yourself extremely busy, tired and all-out crazed. Right? Right?!

Plus, the next few drafts and edits will not come quickly. They will not be stamped onto a blank page. They will be placed and folded neatly into sentences. Eventually.

This is the "dumping" part of the process. The part where you take the words and you chop and peel them. The marinating of the words and story comes later. This process is a pressure cooker, remember?

This is also a process that none of us should try to do alone.


I was just going to type quietly in the trenches. By myself. No harm if I didn't finish, because who would know, right?

But then the ungraceful extrovert in me confessed to a coworker about this project. Now, a little bunch of writerly friends are all in this together. And the community is just on the climb of unfolding.

Because, community is a little bit like a pressure cooker, too.

The support is already wild, though. Even my friend, on his wedding day asked me how this writing project was going. Which is either a sign of how good of a friend he is, or how much I blab about NaNo. Likely a mixture of both.


I'm writing a fictional story following the streamline of one woman's success. Or lack of success, actually.

I've got her going through a Starbucks drive through. In reverse. I've got her ditching her fiance at the altar.

And yes, her hobby is speed-dating. But, she tries to speed-date through love and life. Through working. Through grad school Through friendships.

She's learning, just like me, that success isn't quick. That love isn't quick. And that discovering your calling is a slow, marinating process.

And that she doesn't ever have to do it alone.

Happy reading/writing, friends (and Nanos!).