My goal: To be helpful…and to have a good time while I’m at it!

Ben: the epitome of focus…waiting by the door

Earlier this summer, I wrote about a project that I was working on, and after a number of comments by people on the blog, I realized that I had created a sense of suspense that I never intended, and truthfully, I was surprised and somewhat delighted at the level of interest….so here is the whole story.

Several months ago, I wrote about the 3-Day Novel Contest*, and how I thought I might give it a try (it is held over Labor Day weekend) so I decided to sign up. Right after I paid my entry fee, I had lunch with friends and their encouragement (not so much for the contest, but for me writing) pushed me to the thought,

“If I am willing to put myself through 3 full days of writing to crank out a very rough draft novel, why not see if I can write a novel in 3 months?”  I started writing that day….and just kept going.

Almost every day that I wrote, a voice in my head would say either, “You aren’t doing this right.” or “You don’t know what you are doing.” In the beginning, I feared this doubt would shut me down, and then something within me turned around and I started saying to “the voice”, “You are right. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m going to do it anyway and I am going to have a good time!”, then I’d put a big smile on my face (even when, and especially when, I didn’t feel like it) and ask Spirit to help me stay true to my intention: that this writing be helpful to someone, and I kept writing. Every time a negative thought, “This is no good”, “Other people have written the same story”, “What if it is a disaster?” came up, I’d bring myself back again and again to my basic intention, which also became my “goal” to keep focused on.

I didn’t make chapter breaks or spelling corrections. I began with an idea and let it unfold. I knew that if I started doing any revisions, I’d get stuck in details and might not finish. On August 8th, while I was running, the ending came to me in a flash. I turned around, ran home and wrote. By the end of the day, I had finished 245 pages of a first draft novel, and the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment was palpable.

I don’t know where I’ll go with it from here. It needs A LOT of work; re-writing, editing, chapters and adventures that I haven’t even imagined, are ahead of me, I am sure, but that’s OK…. I think this is what life is about and I intend to enjoy it all.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal“. Henry Ford

* (if you are interested in the 3 Day Novel Contest for yourself, the details are in the link)

52 thoughts on “My goal: To be helpful…and to have a good time while I’m at it!”

  1. Oh Mary,

    I can feel that your novel will be an instant hit, as well as a tribute to your beautiful spirit and will be a shining example of your practicing what you preach!

    Best, best wishes, hope you will be able to share the results of your hard work!

    Love from Fran

  2. PS Ben is beautiful! Such expressive eyes. I’m sure you “got” what ever message he was sending.and he got what he wanted.
    From Fran again

  3. 245 pages of Mary Muncil!!!! How wonderful and how very exciting! I will be first in line or online to buy it! I can picture your joyous face on the jacket cover!!! I can’t wait to open it and to read the very first page!!!! The Reverend Mary Muncil… writer, author, blogger, spiritual leader, friend…and oh so much more to those of us who love you! Congratulations, Mary!

  4. What a wonderful accomplishment, Mary! Congratulations!! Thank you for sharing the process. It’s helpful to know how you responded to that negative voice in your head. (I’ve really enjoyed the pictures of your cats. They are all so beautiful!)

    1. I’m so glad that it was helpful Pam, I too love hearing about everyones process of discovering their true path

  5. YOU are AMAZING Mary!!!! and an inspiration!!! One of my many dreams is to write and publish a novel!..and even sell it!!!! 😉 so I guess I had better start on that mission one of these days..;) Thanks Mary…wow that is alot of pages! WOW!!!

    1. Thank you Marjorie and I know we’ll all look forward to hearing about your novel-writing journey too!

  6. Congratulations! I know how good it feels to have allowed ones self to just slog through and do it. I suspect you found it almost writing itself at times – that you were the dictator of the voice in your head. What magic writing can be. I have no doubt that if the source of your book is the same source of your blog, it will indeed help someone!

  7. Congratulations Mary! What an accomplishment..not only the book itself, but the adventure of writing it and the way in which you did. Thank you for sharing the process…as always your refreshing honesty and spiritual focus is an inspiration. I hope you’ll continue to share the unfolding development of the book!

    1. Thank you Debra, and I will keep sharing the process (especially now that I know it is helpful…fulfilling that intention in ways that I didn’t expect!)

  8. The cat in the picture is remarkable and similar to my cat Tony!! Tony was my childhood cat who looks so much like your cat. I love cats! Good post!

  9. Mary,
    We have a writer’s group in Cambridge that meets the second and fourth Wednesday (from 2-4PM) each month in Alan Wrigley’s conference room. We are a group of writers who gently critique (read help) each other to refine our work. You certainly would be welcome.

  10. Hi Mary – thanks for sharing all of this about the novel you’ve been writing. Whatever comes of it, I admire your process of not worrying about the details and just persevering despite the nagging negative voice in your head. You are a good writer and I’m sure those 245 pages will be worth the read especially when you add the finishing touches.

    I did check out the website info you posted a while back. I will not be signing up for the contest, but may pass the info on to my daughter-in-law. Please see her blog: She just posted about her “Sublime Summer in Chamonix” with my son, Rob.

    p.s. I’m curious, if it is supposed to be a 3 day writing contest…how does that work since you’ve started already? At any rate, the contest is secondary, the impetus for the writing which is primary. I cheer you to the finish line…your own personal Olmpiad!

  11. Hurray for Mary! We are all cheering you on to the finish line as Mary Rita just said! Last summer I read a biography on Michelangelo and what has kept in my mind and made me in awe of his particular creative process, is HOW in the world do you start chipping away at a massive hunk of marble, – how he held forever in his brilliant mind the image of what he wanted to create, – but one false move would seemingly mar the materials with which he is creating that image . . not like being able to delete with the stroke of a finger on the keyboard. So if he can ‘chip away’, then surely that should encourage us all to dream into being whatever it is that has been closeted away in the attic of our minds. Ben’s face is just perfection! And that little white bib? how cute!

  12. Just to leave a word of clarification….the contest ended up being a motivator for me to write …I almost certainly will not be writing another piece for that contest (and will not be submitting this one) but it was worth the $50 for the motivation it gave to me.

  13. What a great accomplishment! I have always wanted to write a novel too, so I applaud you! I am truely amazed at the age of 62, in less than one month I will be 63, at how many things that are out there that I still want to do. In this wonderful time that we are living, age doesn’t necessary make us slow down. I just discovered a new career this last weekend to become a docent at a local museum. Since I have retired 4 years ago I have started my own jewelry design business, tutoring business, Ti Chi, Laughter Yoga Teacher, and Longivity follower. So look at how accomplished we can all be! Mary you still have done the one thing that I still have dreamed about all my life to do, so one day I will get there! Mary you are a wonder to us all! Joan

    1. Joan…you ROCK! What a great and full life you are giving yourself in these new years post-retirement! I am so impressed, and thank you for your inspiration!

    2. Thank you for the encouragement and for sharing your journey as well Joan…wonders abound!

  14. I think you have such a beautiful way with words and with The Spirit that you would make a fantastic author! Go for it….

    1. Thank you Tricia…so much of what I am writing is coming from those days that you and I shared (along with Marian and a few others) so many years ago!

  15. Ok, Mary…I hope you will consider selling your work once you are happy with the finishing touches. You’ve got a “Flock” of readers waiting. No pressure, there….:)

  16. I so needed to receive your story, Mary. I’ve been working on my book since 2007 and am trusting that even though I haven’t been able to write since 2011, the inspiration will return. When completed it will hopefully inspire and encourage others. How wonderful that this has happened for you.

  17. Mary, what have you got to loose by submitting the novella, I wonder? Remember, if you don’t try, you’ll never know if it might be accepted. Challenging ourselves, no matter what it is, is growth. And sometimes a pain in the arse…(smile)…but we gain something whatever it is we do when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone.
    SandyP in Canada

  18. Congrats Mary! Positive energy abounds from this post! I truly admire you. I can see your kitty’s soul through their eyes in yesterday and today’s photos. Sweet and devoted creatures.

    1. Thank you Cindy! I took the photo of Fred and then started thinking that I’d like to try to get every kitty in the same “pose”…it has been fun and there are 3 to go!

  19. Mary, you’re an inspiration. I think I mentioned here on the blog recently how much I love stories, and I’m really looking forward to reading yours. I know how much work and time goes into polishing a rough draft, but I can certainly wait! You rock!!

    1. Thank you Barbara…your wonderful energy is felt here, gratefully recieved, and sent back mulitiplied!

  20. Yea, Mary !!! New adventures are the spark that keeps us young. I’m on my 4th (??) career, blessed to be living my passion for helping people, mentor to at-risk high school girls, with no intention of ever “retiring.”

    Since I can’t wait to see the WFF post in the mornings, I’ll be right behind Kathye in the line to buy the book.

    1. I love that thought Laurie, thank you! (Jack and I both have the same feeling about never retiring…really, we feel like we have just begun)

  21. How marvelous! You are a wonderful writer who already has a devoted audience. Add me to the list of WFF fans who want to buy the book. It made me think of one of my favorite quotes from Mary Oliver: “And that is just the point… how the world, moist and beautiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. “Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?”

    1. Perfect words from Mary Oliver, thank you Victoria for your loving support!

  22. Mary ~ I am so very proud of you and can’t wait to read your novel when it is completed…when, not if!!! After reading your blog for a while now, I know it will be fantastic…love and hugs, Marian

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