I’ve been writing a novel since the beginning of time. Okay, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration, but it sure feels like it. In actuality, I started it in 1999 and have been working on it, on and off, for twelve years or so. It’s all kinda fuzzy.
And I’m only about 160 pages in, so take my advice with a single molecule of salt.
It’s not like I spent that whole eleven years writing every day. I spent twelve years getting my education. I spent a few years drinking Jim Beam and Jagermeister. Mixed. I spent some time on a tractor at a Journey concert. I’ve been busy.
But. Every. Single. Day. I think about my novel. I access my mental health every time I mourn for how lonely my characters must be; for how neglectful I’ve been of them. I bite my nails to the bloody nub worrying over whether they’ll still be there for me when I’m ready to write. I wonder if they’re growing up without me; if their personalities are changing – morphing so that I won’t even recognize them.
There are times when I think that the reason I’m not working on my novel is that I’m waiting for information from the Universe.
No, I’m serious.
I was once stopped up like a skinny supermodel who, in the privacy of her own home, ate a four pound block of Swiss in the span of an hour. I hadn’t written for two years. Not a single, solitary word. I was in college at the time and I was taking a class called Women in Early Christianity. On a random Wednesday, mid-semester, my professor said something so profound I almost jumped out of my seat. It was perfectly aligned with the section of my book that I was stuck on. It was what I was waiting for. I’m sure of it. And I went home and wrote thirty pages that night.
And I haven’t written a lick since. Not. Notta. Nothing. You see, these characters who were wholly unexpected appeared during those last thirty pages and I’m just not sure they belong in my world. Sure, I’ve trusted the process when every other character showed up out of nowhere, but this was different. Sort of like adding a dragon at the end of your dystopian novel wherein every other living organism has died, including the fungi. Or, at least, that’s what my forty-six creative writing professors have told me over the past 20 years of creative writing courses. But… screw it. It’s my novel and I’ll have a proverbial dragon if I want to. I’ll just do it well. As soon as I actually start writing again. For sure. But, first, the laundry, my whites are atrocious.