Keep swimming

I don’t usually take advice from a fish, but Dory’s “Keep swimming” is easy to remember–and easier to do than much of the advice I hear.

In many ways that has become the mantra of my writing this year. As most of you probably know, I’m not yet a published author–at least not to the level I’d like to be. I have to wonder sometimes why I’m even posting here at the Think Tank, because I can’t speak with the authority of an established writer.

In fact, if 2016 is any indication, I’m not writer. I’m a starter-who-can’t-finish-er. I’ve started two novels this year–twice. None of the four attempts have gone beyond 30,000 words. This year has been a step backward for me. I used to be able to finish a novel a year at the very least. My personal hero, Michael J. Sullivan, has written six novels in the past two and a half years.

But I have to slap myself whenever I compare myself like that. He’s a full-time, professional writer. I am a full-time, professional application developer. I write on my lunch break. He gets more writing time in one day than I do in an entire week.

I have to remind myself that I’ve written five novels, and most of those came hour by hour, plugging away during my lunch break while trying to eat my lunch and fielding questions from co-workers who don’t respect the sanctity of lunch hour. And if the “write a million words” maxim is true, I’m going to have to spend a lot more time cranking out novels during my lunch time before I start to get it right.

So yeah, just keep swimming. There’s no doubt this was a bad year. Did I learn anything from it? Maybe. Did I improve in other ways in spite of my lousy completion-rate? Maybe. Am I going to give up?


I realize that much. I’ve asked myself if I want to quite several times this year. And I can’t. I just don’t know how to. Even when I tell myself I’m not going to write any more for a while I still have story ideas mugging me, trying to get out. I don’t think I know how to not write. Even in the twenty years that followed my official decision I was not going to be a writer I couldn’t not write.

I may never get published, but I will continue to write. And hopefully I will continue to improve. Hopefully I’ll even learn some things along the way that help others in the same boat as myself. Hopefully that’s what I bring to the Think Tank: camaraderie and encouragement for we dogged, determined slaves of the written word. I’m still here. I’m still writing and posting. And how are you doing? How did you do with your writing goals this year?

2017 will be upon us soon. It’s time to turn the page on 2016; for better or for worse, it’s ending. It’s time to move forward. A brand new empty page of possibilities.

Ready? Set? Let’s go!

Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom is a Utah transplant, works for a regional bank, and spends his lunch hours working on his latest novel. His wife, three kids, and four pets find him amusing and somewhat useful, so they keep him around.