A Coward’s Confession










I did not complete my novel this July. I can tell by the shocked silence this is terribly astonishing to each and everyone of you.

More likely that silence is something very different from surprise.

I could list dozens of well-crafted excuses, all of which sound remarkably convincing.  I’ve been telling them to myself for weeks, and they did a great job reassuring me that they were valid and true. It’s also true that I am a really, really good at telling stories. I’m certain that these astoundingly compelling tales would be more than sufficient for my kind and generous readers to not only wholeheartedly agree with their legitimacy, but that they would gently “let me off the hook.” Except, I am here to assure you, these are all lies. The truth boils down to one thing: I am a lazy coward.

Or is that two things?

Telling you I am coward sounds like a punchline. At least it does when it’s outside my head, and appearing in the context of a humor column. Inside my head, it’s a punchline of a different sort. Making things is hard.

Every time I sit at the computer to put some words down, there is dread. It’s dread fueled by fear, and it wants me to stop. It begs me to “just take a nap,” or “check Facebook one last time,” or “just look up one more thing,” and 20 minutes later, I’ve not made any progress.

My cowardly mind tells me, in soothing tones, “It’s too hard. You’ve done enough. It was a busy week. You need to go to bed, you have work tomorrow. Rest is more important than meeting some arbitrary deadline that only really exists in your mind. No one will even notice if you miss it.

More lies. *I* notice.

In a month where I was again attempting to re-establish the discipline of a nightly writing, and meet the challenging goal of 1700 words per day, I actually wrote less than I have in months. Behold the irony.

My own internal propaganda had much more powerful ammunition for this round. It had the gall to supplement its lies with a bit of the truth. It’s a small truth, in which I did manage to progress just about every project I’m working on *except* the novel. Sure, any progress is good.. But, it’s also a convenient, comforting appeasement for my failure.

This isn’t a shamelessly transparent attempt to solicit encouraging feedback reminding me how awesome I am. I totally know that already. I also know when I’m falling short.

By telling you all that I’ve fallen short lately, I’m trying to confront that coward. I’m hoping that a breath of honesty might make it harder for me to fool myself. Stranger things have happened.

We came this far, and all I was able to do was talk about the “coward” part of the equation. I’ve not even touched on the “lazy” part. Which means, this is a good place to stop for now. I’ll get around to dealing with that some other time.


  1. Debbie Jones says

    I’m afraid I cannot be much help to your non writing of your novel however you did bring courage to me in a situation i have been putting off for way to long. I ventured to my office at home that has become a deadly lose all hole, mass of storage destruction. Overwhelmed when I entered, I had to be brave and get it cleaned up! Today is the second day and almost gave up, unsure of any progress being made. Then I noticed little by little bits disappearing, there is progress! No one has put a time frame on me either except me and now you – thanks for giving me your courage – now get back at it! (Both of us)