Friday, June 11, 2010

My Novel

Holy crapmuffins, those two little words make me so happy. :)

I am lost, though. Since I wrote the first 50,000+ words in November, I haven't been able to write more, and I haven't been able to write anything else, either. I've even had trouble writing this blog. And I LOVE writing this blog!

Also, since November, I haven't enjoyed reading, which for me is extremely unusual. I've started a bunch of books halfheartedly and then abandoned them fairly quickly, despite the feeling that I should have liked them.

I've only read two books since November (and, for me, that's practically like saying I've only had two baths since November); one was Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Loved it loved it loved it, I can see why it was a bestseller. It's a memoir about a woman's personal journey towards self-love and self-knowledge. That sounds like such a cliche, but it really came along right when I needed it and I just couldn't read it fast enough. And here's how much of a book snob I am: I bought a used but still pretty new-looking trade paperback copy almost a year ago at a flea market for $2. As it turns out, the previous owner marked the pages by turning down the corners, so there's dozens of pages that have those little diagonal creases that so offend my delicate book-loving sensibilities. When I finished the book, I waited for a good Borders coupon to show up in my email and then I went and bought a brand new, beautiful, uncreased copy.

The second book was Dead In The Family by Charlaine Harris, the tenth book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. What can I say? Apparently I find southern people and vampires comforting.

I've been doing research about writing, and the various different processes that writers have for accessing and nurturing their creativity. In an interview Anne Rice said that her process typically is to think about and research her characters/plot for months and months, as long as a year, then to spend a relatively short amount of time writing very intensely and carefully, then one quick revision and she's done. She said she finds herself being very drawn to things that inspire her during her thinking period; movies, books, tv, people, places, whatever. Then during her writing time she isolates herself from anything that might be distracting, and focuses solely on writing.

Of course, there are many many writers - the overwhelming majority, I'm sure - who say that the only way is to write regularly, every day, like it or not. Elizabeth Gibert said in a TED talk that she thinks that creative brilliance strikes occasionally, but you can't control it or depend on it, so you'd better be there and be ready; if you do your part and show up regularly, it'll (hopefully) do its part and show up eventually too.

I've been trying to force myself to sit down every day and write, but I just have not been able to. I can't even explain it. Sometimes I'll look forward to it during the day, but then when I get home I just... forget, like it just falls out of my head. Sometimes I remember, but don't want to, and then I feel bad for being lazy.

I've been trying not to beat myself up over this. I've been trying to think of this as figuring out what my "process" is. I think part of my problem is the stupid voice that has lived in my head since I graduated college with a fresh naive enthusiasm for writing, and then failed to write, at all. The decades passed, and the voice got louder and more abusive. Really, thinking back honestly on this past November, and remembering how hard I pushed myself during NaNoWriMo to write 50,000 words, I'm not sure I really gave myself enough credit. It was such a joyful and intensely emotional experience, rediscovering something so very dear to me, I'm not sure I really let myself feel it.

So I am trying to stop putting pressure on myself, and just give myself room.

Could someone please give me a guarantee that I am not going to die or become disabled in the next year or so, and that I do in fact have plenty of time? Thanks in advance :)


  1. You have plenty of time! This is probably very valuable thinking time. Unless you are depending on the novel to pay your bills, just enjoy the process and let it be organic. Are the characters still roaming around in your head? Is it that you don't know where to take them next? Have you considered spending a few weeks at a writer's colony like Yaddo or Virginia Arts Center? Above all, you love writing so don't make it a bludgeon. You are in gathering mode. Gathering ideas from the world around you about how you want to develop your novel. So glad those two words still make you happy. That says everything!

  2. Oh, Angela, you always say the perfect thing. Thank you for being my friend.

    I love the phrase "gathering mode", and that is what I feel like, actually. I wish I had the time/money to spend a few weeks at a writer's colony, that sounds positively blissful. But I'll make do.

    I feel better about the whole thing since I wrote that blog post, and I am more relaxed about the whole process.

    Thank you again :)


Tell me what you think!