Jay Schryer Rotating Header Image

Accepting Defeat

Samurai statue photo by Ernest Duffoo

I am admitting defeat in NaNoWriMo 2013. I started out behind in my word count, and fell even further behind over the first few days. Now, I’ve missed seven straight days completely. I lack both the will and the desire to catch up, and so I’m officially dropping out. I’ll complete the story that I was writing for it, but I’m going to work on it much more slowly, and edit as I go along. The result will be more polished and easier to read, and it will probably work a lot better. Karen, our lovely protagonist, deserves to be treated with care and respect. Now, I can give that to her…no matter where her story takes her.

In 2010, when I completed NaNoWriMo, I did so at a heavy cost. Writing consumed my life, and burned everything else away. I grew to hate writing, to hate thinking about it, to hate talking about it, to hate everything about it. Writing began to feel like an obligation. It became a chore to do as soon as possible every morning just so I could put it behind me and get on with my day.

I don’t ever want to feel that way again. I love writing, and I want to enjoy it. I don’t want it to be a chore, or a bore. But in order to keep my enthusiasm for it, I have to do it on my terms. Artificial word counts and difficult deadlines feel restrictive and punitive to me, and I want no part of them.

And so I am dropping them, and returning to writing on my own terms.

Of course, there is a price to be paid. My integrity is taking a hit, and my character along with it. I committed myself to doing NaNo, and now I am breaking that commitment. I suppose most people wouldn’t even blink in the face of that betrayal, but I take my honor very seriously…and I know that every broken promise is a stain on that honor. It wounds meā€”that much is certain. However, I would rather accept the stain of a broken promise than accept the pain of killing my passion. If my honor is tainted, then so be it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me…I have a story to tell.

Love Always,




  1. Beautiful said, Jay. I’m glad you are following your own way! I find it very difficult to confine myself to artificially induced schedules. Not sure if this is a strength or weakness or neither.

    1. JaySchryer says:

      Thank you, Sandra. I’m pretty sure it’s neither a strength or a weakness…it’s just the way you are. In some situations, it could put you at a disadvantage, while in others, it could be a great asset. When there are deadlines, such as when working for a newspaper or magazine, then you would be at a disadvantage. However, when there are not any deadlines, you could be more at ease and peaceful, which is always a good thing.

  2. Robin Easton says:

    Dear Jay, You’ve no idea how much this post means to me. I related to every facet of it. You’ve confirmed so much for me. Although I never did the NaNoWriMo, I wrote a book about my time in the Australia rainforest. Initially my writing started as a form of journaling that I did when I came from the wild, “the free”, back into this culture. I was irrevocably changed from that “wild” time. Few people understood me or the life I’d lived. It was so far out of their known experience they didn’t know what to ask me or how to relate to it, even if I did talk about it. Although, over the years this has slowly changed.

    So in light of that I started to write my feelings down about my life in the forest, as well as what I saw in the culture that I’d grown up in and that still existed all around me. The writing saved my sanity, by allowing me to lose myself in the truths and experiences I’d been given in the rainforest, especially when there was often very little truth in the culture (at the time). Writing was both healing and supportive. I did not intend to write a book. I simply wrote for myself.

    I ended up typing (on computer) 1500 – 2000 single spaced pages, which I still have, and which my first book came from, and my second and third books will come from IF and WHEN I decided to finish them.

    There was a great shift for me when I decided to write professionally (and under pressure, deadlines, and so on), I did not like it, I sometimes lost sight of me, the stress was *enormous* and something that I will never do in that way again. The stress eventually made me quite ill. I’ve spent the last couple of years healing, finding my center, remembering who I am and what works for me. I have spent the last couple of years exploring other aspects of my creativity such as nature photography along with short written bits. The photography gets me out into nature, gives me exercise, fresh air, and the continuation of the love affair I have with the wild. ALL healthy things and ALL things that are ME!

    I am not saying I might not finish my other two books, but it will HAVE to be done with “grace”, done because IT is compelling me, not ME trying to push IT, and working with deadlines, or other people’s timelines.

    I was deeply moved by your post here. Again, my deeply wise friend, you give something precious to me. And I would say this to you…..

    “Your integrity is not compromised, nor is your honor. In fact, by letting this go, you honor yourself, me, and others who are sensitive and have suffered in this way. And on these deep, DEEEEEP soul issues, if we are not true to our heart’s cry, we have lost all. I learned this the hard way. There is a difference between being true to a writing project or deadline, and being TRUE to the heart and soul of who we are, a living, breathing, mutable, abysmally profound human soul, one who is compelled by passions, inspirations, and emotions that are far more complex and vaster than we may ever comprehend. Our culture, many cultures, do not honor the deepest soul. All too often they do not connect our health, sanity, vitality, passion and creativity with the ABSOLUTE honoring of the heart and soul of us.”

    Know that you are seen and loved.
    With much gratitude,

    1. JaySchryer says:

      Thank you, dearest Robin. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Your wisdom and compassion mean so much to me, and I am deeply thankful for your words here which exemplify that aspect of your soul. Whenever I start to feel crazy or like I’m the only one in the universe who feels as I do, you always appear like a guardian angel from the ethereal realms to guide me back to myself or to let me know that I am not alone. Naked in Eden remains one of my all-time favorite books, and I am so thankful that you wrote it. Just knowing that you exist in this world gives me a sense of peace, love, and belonging that I have never felt anywhere else, or from anyone else. Thank you for being you, and for sharing the gift of you with the world.

      1. Robin Easton says:

        Thank you, dear Jay, you’ve no idea how much your words mean to me. And it is more than just your “words”, but rather your acute awareness and wisdom, and your beautifully open heart. You have a truly vast soul, that is not afraid to encompass SO MUCH. You allow it all to exist and are not afraid, so, so beautiful. I often draw on things you have written, even things of yours that I read years ago. Whether you are aware of it or not, you have done the same thing for me. Appeared at the right time with your trade mark, raw, clean, gut level truth (which I had found no where else). It really effects me in a deep way when that happens, like my whole word has righted itself. And I say to myself, “Ahh, there IS someone who knows. I am not alone in what I see, feel and experience.” Thank you, precious soul, for being YOU! Always know, that you are NOT alone and NOT crazy, NOT even close…. Much love to you. You just keep right on being Jay. That is MORE than enough. It is everything. ….and the world needs you, needs your bold, yet compassionate voice. Wow!

  3. Chris Edgar says:

    Hi Jay, I like what you say about being willing to depart from artificial schedules — after all, if we stayed on schedules of someone else’s design all the time, we wouldn’t give ourselves any opportunities to grow, or at least we would make them far more rare. If I had kept reporting to work every day in my old job, for instance, I would have missed hundreds of opportunities to expand my horizons.