A Symphony of Fail

I am the ape man. I am the walrus.


I am neither of those things. I am the fail whale.

Yes. That is me, sad tighty whiteys and all.

Fail a’ Fail-a-rino.

Today is November 30th. The last day of the festivities that are National Novel Writing Month.

This is the annual event where writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

2011 marks the sixth time I have had a go at NaNoWriMo.

My first shot was in 2004. I struggled, but made it the first time out of the gate. There have been years since then when I have skipped participation. But every one of the five years I have tried my hand at NaNoWriMo, I have succeeded in passing the finish line by the 30th of the month.

One year, I finished in 21 days. Yeah, that rocked.

This year, however. Well.

50,000 words are the goal. As of this moment, I have 14,239.

See. I didn’t just fail a little. I failed a lot.

A big round blobby smelly unctuous fail.

That’s me. Mz Failsalot.

I was going to simply try to hide this away. Pretend it didn’t happen. Not say a word. Not mention it to anybody unless they asked.

Then I decided that confession is good for the soul.

Own it! Sing it! Love it!

Yes, yes…I’m one of those perfectionist kinda gals. It makes me happy to complete what I start. Completing a project matters.

Also, I’m excessively proud of my ability to produce words. Not just any words, but halfway decent words written at a rapid clip. Paragraphs with a good foundation that some powerful editing can improve and shape into literary magic.

But this year, way too many hours at work (a project is failing and I’m paddling as fast as I can to keep it a’float), a prolonged bout of writers block (see Monday’s post), and an extraordinary amount of hubris (I had the audacity to TALK ABOUT my story idea…..that is certain death to creativity) came together in the perfect storm that smashed my tiny seafaring vessel to the rocks.

Oh, the drama! The anxiety! The shaaaaaaame.

Yep. I blew it. I firmly believe that owning it, giving my failure both light and air, and speaking of it publicly……Well, all of that takes the sting out of it. Draws out the venom.

Helps me be ok with it. And learn from it.

So today, I sing a song of failure. It starts off sad, like an Irish lament, but ends up peppy like a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.

Fffffffffffffffffffffffailure where the agony comes sweeping down The Muse!

Whew. Now I just need to do an act of contrition, and the Universe will grant me absolution.


Fail whale image is by Ed Wheeler and found on deviantart.com. Follow him on Twitter @EduardoWheeler

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  • Alan

    I’m gathering that you didn’t quite meet your goal.

    Let me be the small voice that says that 14K+ words ain’t half bad. That’s several thousand more than I’ve written of late.

    Keep it up. Besides you need a little humble pie after cleaning up at the county fair with your multi-pronged, Renaissance (wo)man approach. ;D

    • Karen Fayeth

      Alan – You know, you are totally right. The Muse and I haven’t been on the same page since the fair. Good call.

      This humble pie tastes terrible, but I’m eatin’ it. Oh I’m eatin’ it with a frothy topping of getting schooled on top.

  • Ephraim F. Moya


    Isn’t it “Tidy Whiteys” ?

    Don’t worry too much (except to analyze it) about your ‘failure’.

    Failure is the BEST way to learn.

    El Joyero

    • Karen Fayeth

      Viejo – Re: the proper name for the chones, I think you are actually right….

      And you are right, failure is a good way to learn. I’ve definitely been schooled. As Alan said, perhaps it was time.

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