To the Rest of Us NaNoWriMo Failures

NaNoWriMo FAILUREI’m a failure. I’m a big fat lazy aimless unambitious masochistic failure. And this post is dedicated to all the Wrimo Failures out there. 

A few days before the start of November, I thought “Hey, I’ve never given NaNoWriMo a serious shot before. I’m gonna’ do it this year!” Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I started writing with a vague semblance of a point for writing my book. It was going to be a fictional memoir, you see, full of meta postmodernistic dark humor about someone who forgoes writing a suicide note for writing a suicide book. The protagonist was totally going to die, you see, and he would know all about it because he was going to be the one doing it. Yeah, this idea totally rocks! No plot, no problem, right? I have my ending kinda’ sorta’ hashed out. Alls I needs to do is slap some peanut butter and jelly in this sumabitch.

As you may have seen in the couple of updates that I wrote about in the past month, I started out strong writing right on track at the 10,000 word mark and then I gradually fell behind. But hey, a couple cups of tea and a few hours of pure writing time at the cost of my sleep should just about do the trick. I’ll be caught up in no time.


Just nope.

It was about 10:53 p.m. on the evening of November 30th, when I realized there was no way I was going to be able to write 7,000 more words in 2 hours and 7 minutes. If I wasn’t already too sleep deprived, I would have broken out the irish creme, coffee liqueur, and half & half and started watching Monty Python videos. I just stuck to watching Monty Python sober- but not until after I had churned out a thousand more words for the next hour and 6 minutes. In the end, I reached 43,438 words of my “novel.”

And you know what? 43,438 words ain’t half bad. Actually, it’s freaking fantastic. This past November was a wonderful learning experience via NaNo alone and I am thankful for the lessons it has taught me. In fact, there has been a lot to be thankful for this November.

NaNoWriMo Chart with Frame

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde

So for all of you out there who started NaNo, but never got around to reaching your goal for whatever reason, I raise my mug of tea to you. Whether your wrote 49,000 words, 12,000 words, 100 words, or just came up with a title, we can all give ourselves a pat on the back. The point of NaNoWriMo is not about writing a perfect New York Times bestselling novel in 30 days. The point is to just get started. Any step forward is a step in the right direction. It’s stagnation that kills us. There are some people with novel ideas who never so much as write down the title! You did that and perhaps much, much more! We did that!

This all sounds a lot like naive, self-deceiving, optimistic bullshit – which it is – but yet, it isn’t. NaNoWriMo is about having fun. Even the stress you experience through NaNo isn’t supposed to be overly negative stress. You’re not meant to beat yourself up over your holey plot or stubborn characters. You’re supposed to have fun with it. What is the point of writing if you’re not enjoying yourself? I may not have been even close to finishing my story, but I’ve made [in]glo[u]rious headway on it.

It might be a steaming pile of ox dung right now, but it’ll make great fertilizer for future writing endeavors.

So chin up, fellow Wrimo Failures. Even the greatest writing fails we have achieved this past month is a small victory.

What are you thankful for? Fellow Wrimos, did you reach your goal? What did you get out of NaNoWriMo? Will you do it again? (I know I will). Post your word count proudly and share your thoughts in the comments! 

Read about others’ NaNo “losing” experiences:

Follow my mundane thoughts on Twitter @SOStudent and watch me make a fool of myself on the YouTubes (stressingoutstudent). Cheers.

For No One Can See Me and Live… Until YouTube

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

First of all, I am no man.

Second of all, I have no second point.

Well, folks, I’ve decided to take a step out of the shadows of anonymity and start making YouTube videos. To be honest, I have no clear reason or idea why. Do I want to expand my brand? Perhaps I’m an attention whore at heart. Maybe it has to do with daddy issues, abandonment issues, Ben & Jerry’s issues, etc. For whatever reason, I have a YouTube account now and I’ve posted my first personal video. I already had a few Richard Dawkins videos up, but I only just recently uploaded one where I show my face.

For now, I have no focus on my YouTube channel. All I know is that this blog will still be my primary outlet of [not so] creative expression. My YouTube channel will be updated even less frequently than this site is. For now, it’s still in the experimental stages. I was just really excited that I got a ukulele and I wanted to share it with the world because I have no friends. Just kidding. Not kidding. Just kidding…

So what did I choose to do for my video debut? Why, sing and play a Monty Python song on the ukulele, of course.

So subscribe to my YouTube channel stressingoutstudent and see the fears, worries, and screaming pathos in 3D*!

Bring it on, YouTube. Let’s see what you got for SOS.

*Not actually in 3D

The Tragedy of Old Age: Happy Birthday, Oscar Wilde

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. 

– Oscar Wilde

On this day in 1854, the crown prince of the Aesthetes, master of wit, artist of wordplay, Mr. Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born. That was 159 years ago. And in much less time than that, Wilde would experience the tragic rise and fall of an infamous career.

What shall we do, Mr. Wilde, to celebrate this day for you? Here, would you reply with something witty and cynical? Something that would make the room titter and chuckle? Tuckle and chitter? Of course. I will make no attempt at an Wildean aphorism. Rest in peace, my flamboyant idol-of-sorts. No need to roll in the grave.

Oscar Wilde! What shall we do then? No need to write a biography about you. Many have already done so. People already know you were a playwright, with “The Importance of Being Earnest” being perhaps your most popular. And no need to mention your only novel, censored for over 150 years, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Only in the past couple of years has the full original edition – the draft publishers rejected as gross and dangerously “immoral” – become available to the public.

But perhaps that really is what needs mentioning…

The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray has been my favorite book since I first read it at the easily chewable age of 13. While the themes were classic and resonant, they were not the hook that drew me under. It was the words. The language in this book moved me in both shallow and deep ways. It is true that I was very easily won over by the purpley prose, those empty words that did nothing but- no, they did everything. Wilde’s words opened up for me a world of richness and flavor such that I had never read before. Even now, when I read through my favorite passages, I remain amazed at the almost purely aesthetic nature of the language. “Art for art’s sake.” Plot? TPoDG has only a semblance of a plot. It is more a vehicle for Wilde’s witticisms and poetic waxing than a captivating story.

The premise is fascinating and has endured this long, as it will continue to endure. In despair over the thought of losing his youth, Dorian Gray makes a Faustian wish: eternal youth in exchange for his soul. But it is not as if his soul has disappeared – it has manifested in his portrait, painted by a true artist in love with Gray. Basil Hallward outdid himself with his painting. He Pygmalion and Dorian his Galatea– a wondrously beautiful statue come to life. The painting shows every line and liver spot of Dorian’s age and sin. He is able to watch it year after year as it ages and he remains young and beautiful. Without the moral culpability, his soul, he is able to get away with almost anything. He ruins men and women alike, marring their reputability and making them unfit to step out into respectable society. He drives people to suicide. He murders. He takes all he can get from others and lavishes himself in the finest material wealth. All without remorse.

Throughout the years, the themes have become more poignant, becoming more important to me than the language. Wilde, King of the Aesthetes, still acknowledged moral depth. Beauty is not enough on its own. Dorian drove himself to a sort of madness in his final moments, tormented by the ugly sight of his own soul. In the end, he is dead, and for what? He was not a happier man for living the Epicurean lifestyle, indulging in all the carnal and material desires in his path.

What does this mean for us? What does it mean for me? To be honest, I do not yet know. After all these years, I am still mulling Wilde’s sole novel over in my head. He has taught me that it is all right – and perhaps he encourages this – to love art for the sheer beauty of it, regardless of the semantics or any other beyond-surface level meaning.

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

– The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

He taught me about the subjectivity of morality, but at the same time pointed out that morality must exist, even if it’s something that we pull out of our derrieres. In what form remains to be illuminated. He showed me the facade of high society with its trivial worries and preoccupations. He gave me the appreciation for lovely language. He gave me the appreciation for intelligent language. He allowed me to feel without having to think too hard about it.

Thank you, Oscar Wilde, and happy birthday, old chap.

Read on about Mr. Wilde:

Oscar Wilde Quotes for the Soul[less]

As shown in previous posts, I love me some Oscar Wilde. The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favorite novels for its verbal aestheticism and its abundance of Wildian wit. It was my introduction to the all too human legend that was Mr. Wilde. He seduced me with his language much like Lord Henry seduced the young, naive Dorian into a life of hedonism and aestheticism. Except I’m not a heartless hedonist. And I didn’t sell my soul and age to the devil.

Oscar Wilde was the King of the Aesthetes. He championed “art for art’s sake” and the soulful importance of beauty. In his preface to TPoDG, he writes,

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.

In the 1890s, Oscar Wilde was put on trial for his crimes of libel and homosexuality, which at the time was considered as lowly and sinful as bestiality. Even under the threat of imprisonment, Wilde remained as witty and eloquent as ever.

Watch the brilliant Stephen Fry (a sort of modern Wilde) defend himself and “the love that dare not speak it’s name” from Wilde:

Learn more about THE MAN here.

First World Problems Are Not Real Problems (Hold on a Sec)

Before you scroll away, take note: this is not about the self-righteousness of the privileged and the armchair activists. This is not a shame piece on those who deny their privilege. This is not a solution to the unhappiness of the world. This is a perspective.

One Point Perspective Drawing - Civilization

First World Problems Are Not Real Problems

Does this mean the “first world” has no problems? No.

Does this mean the “first world” should be happier than the “third world?” No.

In popular culture, the term “first world problems” has become a joke dealing with the material luxuries and excesses of our culture. And when I refer to culture, I do not mean the culture of a specific ethnicity or country or borough. I refer to the culture of our civilization as a whole – not the concept of civilization, but our civilization as it is. The “first world problems” meme is something of a misnomer. It is misleading and yet it is completely accurate. You see, this idea does not deal with the deeper illnesses and shamefully hidden lesions of our culture, the true problems of the first world. We laugh at instances of “first world problems,” such as not being able to text because your fingers are too cold or forgetting your WiFi password for the dozenth time. At first, we laugh because we can relate. And the smirk dissolves into realization. We laugh because it’s true. And then we realize it is sad.

Our culture is not a happy one. Many of the inventions that were created to make our lives easier and more fulfilling simply do not. They were created – manufactured – for extrinsic reasons: money, fame, power.

But not contentedness.

“Nowadays People Know the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing.” 
– The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

There are some in our culture who have immersed themselves so deeply into the narrative of material paradise that they allow themselves to pretend to be happy. That is not true emotion; that is denial. It is a lie. I value the wisdom of accepting each individual’s reality, but on one condition: that the reality does no harm. The reality that we have been baptised in within the soothing cathedral walls of our culture is not harmless – far from it. These murky waters that we both wade in and drink from have clouded our minds. I am no unclouded messiah, no trained physician, nor am I the first to ever question the methods of our civilization. (In fact, I am only just beginning to explore the notion – and what an interesting excursion it is becoming). However, I do see that we are sick. None of us are immune and it is more than what a few teaspoons of cough medicine can fix.

Some people become sanctimonious, lamenting the supposed unhappiness and unnatural suffering of those in “less fortunate” countries. And I have bought into the sanctimony more than once, but I’m slowly getting my money back. Customer service may prove to be a bitch, but I am definitely going to get my money back.

“Finish Your Food – There Are Starving Kids In India”

Well, there are starving kids in Indiana, too. Finishing my plate of peas and carrots isn’t going to fix that problem. We are not all that better off than those “poor, dirty, backwards India folk.” At this point, the privileged saints of our culture froth at the mouth at such a blasphemous remark. “You are so ungrateful for what you have.” Am I? Yes, it is wonderful at the end of a lovely day at a higher education institution to be able to go home – a home with a roof and insulated walls; a home with central heating and clean, hot water; a place with electronic entertainment devices. I can drive to the grocery store in a sturdy, warm, cushy vehicle and get enough food to stock an underground fallout shelter. (And have enough food left over for a family reunion weekend).

But does this make me happy? No.

And does that answer make me ungrateful? No.

“First world problems” are not real problems. But it does not mean we do not have them. We are just more skilled at denying them.

What do you think about the idea of “first world privilege?” Can it be used fairly (without shaming)? Is it a responsibility of the “privileged” to better the world?

Read on: