Hard Times

What to blog about? Do I write an Eeyore post about how writing a novel is hard and how it takes so long? And how Kevin snickered when I told him I didn’t know it would be so long and hard?

Sure, I’ll write about all that.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks with the novel. I keep fantasizing about taking a break. Kevin tells me maybe it wouldn’t hurt. I panic. If I take a break, how will I know I’m not quitting? If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I am not a quitter. So I keep showing up, sometimes just to open the computer and cry; sometimes to spill out 4,000 words that feel like nothing. I’ve never been closer to the end of my novel and I’ve never felt farther away from the end. It seems the harder I try to move forward, the more I slide backwards. This kind of not-getting-anywhere scenario has always haunted me in my dreams and now it’s happening in real life and I’m confused about whether I’m sleeping or I’m awake.

Deep down, underneath all my insecurities and doubts and self-flagellation, some part of me knows that what I’ve written is good and important and the novel will get finished. But the part of me that opens up the computer each day does not believe it.

Hey Buddy, that deep down part of me says. Hey, relax. You got this. Of course you’re going to finish the novel. You’re doing great! Its voice is so calm and soothing, I want to take a bath in it.

Then this other loud, grating, Gilbert Godfried voice says, How do you know that? Can you see the future? What if you die tomorrow? Who’ll finish it then? What if you get lazy or excuse-y or have a mental breakdown? What if you’re all out of words? What if it actually is too hard and you just can’t do it?

Yeah. So that’s what I have to listen to as I go through my days. It’s almost always there, that voice. Sometimes I can turn the volume down but sometimes the knob seems to be broken.

It’s hard for a person like me who regularly sets specific, measurable, achievable goals and then works her tail off to meet those goals, to embark on such a nebulous task as writing a novel. An assignment with no guidelines—no grades to tell me I’m doing well, no due date, no graduation date. No medals or ribbons or awards ceremonies. No guarantee I’ll finish it or sell it or anyone will  buy it or read it or love it or share it. Not a single guarantee.

I thought it would take me a year to write a novel. Then I thought it would take two. I’m on my third year and now thinking it might take  five years. Maybe ten. Maybe the rest of my life (provided I don’t die tomorrow, or anytime during the next five or ten years).

I have learned so much about myself over these past 2.5 years. My writing skills have bloomed and blossomed. I’ve written things that have made me laugh out loud and have made me cry rolling tears. (Not all the tears I cry are in frustration.) I remind myself that I’m here by choice. I’m here because I love to write. I’m here because writing stories is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl.

Yes writing a novel is hard. So go ahead and laugh, Kevin, but quitting?

Quitting would be even harder.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Chicken & barley soup
Pita pizzas
Salad

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