Surviving the Struggle – Becoming a Powerful NaNoWriMo Winner


Hello again! It’s me, Ollie, James’ Old English Sheepdog, hoping you are staying warm and dry – that is if you are in the Northern Hemisphere while reading this – if in the Southern Hemisphere, I hope you are staying cool and dry. (It is so awesome that I have readers around the globe.)

While we were out on our morning walk the other day, James started jabbering about his being a winner in the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) by completing at least the first 50,000 words of a novel. I’ve been hearing about it every day during November, so I blew him off and ran ahead. When I came back he was talking about triathlons. As I tilted my head and cocked my ears, James realized I wasn’t making the connection. (I love that James understands me so well.)

He told me that the goal of 50K words can be reached by writing 1,667 words during each of the 30 days during November. (I don’t like math so I took him on his word.) Then he said that when he was doing triathlons, he used to break each segment into sections. For instance, during the 2.4-mile swim he would break it into four pieces of 0.6 miles each, and congratulate himself after each one in order to pump himself up for the next portion. He did the same with the 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. (I was dog-tired – yeah, we dogs know what that feels like – simply listening to him talk about those distances.) And that is what he said he did during NaNoWriMo – broke it into manageable segments during each day – and if he went beyond that day’s section, he was even more pumped up when he sat down the next morning.

Now I was having a great time listening to him, so when he stopped to make a point I was glad since I was exhausted. Kneeling and taking my face in his hand, James rubbed my head and said, “The most important thing is to get to the starting line. Once you’re there you’ve already won.” Tilting my head again, James said, “Finishing the race is not what’s important. The fact that you are there, trying, doing your best, that is what makes you a winner.” At that I slobbered all over his face, and he fell backwards laughing.

I found this quote from Anna @weezeramb who said it in regards to being burned out while writing during NaNoWriMo that’s it’s okay to take a break and, “Snuggle with your dog (or find someone else’s dog) and just take a breather.” I got lots of snuggles from James during NaNoWriMo. (Actually, James snuggles with me a lot – and I love it – except when my buddies come over to play and he so needs to not do any snuggling. Wow, he wrote that. Maybe he’s getting the message.)

As we made our way home, we discussed which poem of his would be a good one to add to my blog today having to do with this topic. He’s written several that touch on it. So after reviewing them we selected “Iron Age.” We hope you enjoy it.



Reflected in the pulsating window of the subway train
I suddenly see myself, concentrating on the task ahead,
the horn blasts:
        I am skimming the surface, ebb and flow, the brush against flesh,
        absorbed into the vastness, the rhythm, the flow, the drive,
        the pull, the desire, the strain in the arms, the undulation
        of the legs, the eternal repetition - abruptly ending.

Standing at my window watching the ripples of the Hudson River
I am transported to the transition tent where we are changing;
forgetting myself, the time, everything – it overtakes me.
Suddenly I am alone awaiting my re-racked bike having been detained.

The bikes, they confront me as I am carried by taxi into the lower loop
of Central Park round-and-round, dizzying duplication,
I blink:
        I am aerodynamic changing gears from high to low to accelerate
        while descending the many declines, rapid, rushing exhilarating,
        a blur; and from low to high while approaching the multitudes
        of inclines, steep, steady, agony – de-cleat.

Glancing over the expanse towards New Jersey I realize
there is less than half the way to go but it is still a marathon;
with others defeated I realize I must be sturdy, strong, and supple.
for all the preparation I can waste no time.

Tossing and turning, restless in my usually coma induced sleep,
I can sense throughout my entire body that
the end is near:
        I am struggling with each step, striving to make it to the end,
        pumping myself up to not give in to the fear, weakness, loathing,
        anger and pity but to stay focused, resilient and resourceful
        knowing that it will forever be mine – once crossed.

And no one, absolutely no one, can take it from me.

We hope you liked the poem. Oh, and be sure and let me know by leaving us a comment if you did, or if you have any questions for me (or for James).

Until next week,
Short Stories - Author Webpage Help Needed
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)

Paw Prints courtesy of
“NaNoWriMo Winner” illustration badge courtesy of
“Ironman Lake Placid” a registered trademark of World Triathlon Corp (WTC)
“Iron Age” poem © 2015 James Stack


One thought on “Surviving the Struggle – Becoming a Powerful NaNoWriMo Winner

  1. “I am aerodynamic changing gears from high to low to accelerate

    while descending the many declines, rapid, rushing exhilarating,

    a blur; and from low to high while approaching the multitudes

    of inclines, steep, steady, agony – de-cleat.”

    Thank you for sharing, Ollie and James. This line resonates with me. I used to ride in marathons –Iowa, Florida and Oklahoma–back in the days I could still run and ball on the court. I sure miss it.

    A mile at a time, a day at a time, a page at a time. 🙂

    We have this one shot, but every day we are fortunate to open our eyes we get another chance to do what matters.

    (Sorry about the formatting while quoting you. I’m commenting from my phone and it jacked your verse all up so I tried to straighten it out. Hard to do from an iPhone .)


    Liked by 1 person

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