and ramblings on everything in between
My NaNo novel has been sitting in the catch-all basket in my living room since Thanksgiving. Every time I walk by it I avoid eye contact. When the temptation is too much and I glance over at it, I’m flooded with anxiety. Is it possible to truly be scared of a few pieces of paper? I think it is.
I’ve started and gotten half-way through so many short stories over the years. I’m good at starting new pieces. I’m bad at seeing them through to the end. It’s the dreaming and creating part that I love, not the editing and making it great part. I’m determined to push through that nonsense this time. I was passionate enough to write the silly thing in a month, and I refuse to just leave it on my desktop to never be seen again.
After being snowed in for three days this week, I plucked the novel from its spot in the basket and proceeded to move it around from room to room with me. “Right after I finish this…” is what I said to it. But three days came and went and all I did was prove to the novel that I’m a liar.
I told myself a bunch of corny things:
- You’re not afraid of the novel, you’re afraid of what others will say about it
- You have nothing to fear except fear itself
- You can’t be a writer if you refuse to be an editor
And then I jotted down these notes in my phone as the novel hung out next to me on the bed. And then I got an email. You know exactly how this goes.
“Two pages,” I said. “Start with two pages.”
What I discovered was, just as with writing, the precious moment before you begin to edit or begin to write are the scariest. You think you can’t push through them. You think you’ll never know what it feels like to be on the other side of them. But before you know it, you start to think you know exactly what you’re doing.
I made it through the first chapter and was surprised at how I felt. Excited. Determined. Energized. It was as if I had never doubted myself or my writing.
I’ve got a long way to go, the novel’s got a long way to go, but I can tell a door is opening.
My writing goals for this year are:
- Edit my novel and share it with at least one person. I struggle with putting my writing out there, and I’m hopefully that after I let one person read it I’ll realize it’s not as scary as I think it will be.
- Finish the short story I started six years ago when I took a writing class taught by Kevin Symmons. He has since published two novels, which you can find here and here. My story is titled “Wash N’ Dry,” an attempt at creating something similar to John Updike’s “A&P.”
- Enter the Real Simple essay contest in September. The topic will be announced in May, and no matter what it is, I’m going for it. I submitted a piece in 2012 and dropped the ball in 2013. That whole editing thing…
- Participate in NaNoWriMo again. I’ve already started plotting my next novel. It’s the polar opposite of the one I just wrote. A chiclet novel about a young woman’s struggle to fit into mundane office life.
Whether they are big or small, ambitious or realistic, I hope you are setting some expectations of what this year will be for you. It all starts with today.