Today is Halloween, of course, and it's a day when many loved ones back East are struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. But it's also the last day of the month, which is always a special day for me.
I love best the first day of a new month when I can begin a whole new life: exercise, healthy eating, fiscal restraint, astonishing writing productivity. But I also love the last days of a month as I scramble frantically to try to salvage the last new life, now about to come to an end - perhaps to a disappointing end, unless I act, and act quickly. The month began with so many dreams, goals, ambitions, aspirations! Surely there is something I can get done before midnight on the 31st, something I can point to as an October accomplishment.
My main goal for October was to write a full first draft of the third chapter book in my Franklin School Friends series: Izzy Barr, Running Star. These are not super-long books; they run to around 14,000 words or 70 pages typed in my generous Courier 10 font. I wrote a full first draft of Annika Riz, Math Whiz during the month of July, so I knew a draft-in-a-month was a genuine possibility. But in July I didn't have the competing demands of my university job. Still, one might as well aim high.
Two sayings have stuck with me over the years; I don't know who said either one.
"The greatest tragedy for most of us is not that we aim too high and miss our goal. It's that we aim too low and reach it."
"If you aim at the stars, at least you won't shoot your foot off."
I've been writing fairly steadily throughout the month, scribbling a page or two a day. Three days ago, I was still three chapters short: eight chapters done, three chapters left to go. Three days, three chapters - six or seven pages a day - I could do this! My writer friends who will be launching into National Novel Writing Month tomorrow will write more than that every single day all month long. I couldn't wimp out on this now.
So Monday I wrote a draft of Chapter 9, and yesterday I wrote a draft of Chapter 10. Right this minute I'm halfway through Chapter 11. If no students come during my office hours this afternoon, I think I have it in the bag. And I don't? Well, ten-and-a-half chapters for my month's writing total is nothing to sneeze at. I accomplished vastly more than I would have if I hadn't set the writing bar high for myself.
Off to write. And if I finish this final chapter, I'll be so set for my new life for November.