I’ve Failed Me

Late this afternoon I received an e-mail with feedback on my thesis from my thesis reader, the so-called “second set of eyes” to review my work. This was both a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because the response was thoughtful, thorough, and encouraging. It was a curse because it reminded me how much further I have to go with this manuscript. Here now, at the end of my program, I feel as if I have accomplished very little. I have no manuscript to send out. I have only a partially finished draft of something that I may never be able to complete.

The two years of this program were supposed to help me produce something significant. I basically gave myself these two years to produce something that would help me break into writing full-time. And if I didn’t have something at the end of two years, I was screwed. It was a $24,000 experiment. I couldn’t afford to slip up.

And yet, that’s the position I find myself in now. I’ve slipped up, and I’m screwed. Soon, I won’t have time to work on this novel anymore. I’ll be working more of these thirteen-hour days—out by 7 AM, home at 8 PM. I’ll be tired. I’ll have other commitments. I won’t have the deadlines looming. The support group of the program will no longer be there. The manuscript will collect dust in some forgotten corner of my hard drive while I go out each day to make money so that we can afford to live.

What my reader’s comments reminded me of was the fact that a writer’s work is never done. It was unrealistic of me to expect that I’d have something done at the end of these two years. Like so many goals I’ve set for myself, this was one I never could have reasonably expected to achieve. I’ve cheated myself, and my wife, and our bank account, by believing that I would actually come out of this with something to show for myself.

Listen: I know I have a full draft of a manuscript. But a full draft doesn’t count for shit. A full draft, if it’s not perfect, is not going to attract an agent or a publisher. A draft is never going to be read by anyone except for a few of my nearest and dearest.

As my reader noted, I’ve, “taken on an ambitious project here, and there are moments of great success.” But moments aren’t enough. I wanted a whole novel of great success. And I don’t have that yet.

I’ve failed myself. That’s the realization I’ve come to. I’ve failed me.