Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spare-time Novelist

Follow Me
(Boston, 2004)

When I told regular people that I was thinking of writing a novel in my spare time, they smiled indulgently and thought to themselves, she'll never finish it. They figured that the day to day rigours would grab my attention, and I just wouldn't find the space of time.

When I told an artist that I was thinking of writing a novel in my spare time, he smiled with empathy and thought to himself (I imagine), I wonder if she's strong enough to finish? He knew what I was in for. Aspiring writer, if you have not begun your journey, I suggest you ask yourself that question before you fall in love with it. Are you strong enough to hold yourself and your life together and devote yourself to creation, too?

Because it's not the day to day rigours that will grab your attention. It's the writing.

Why did no one tell me about this moment in the creating process? Oh, maybe they did. I often don't understand what people are telling me. I assume I know me best.

Anyway, this moment. This moment when the story has grown to a heavy lump, not ready for the world but definitely in the way of living a normal life. This moment when the characters are demanding that I adapt my mind to them and live in them before they will give up their more of their secrets. This moment when the world of the story cries for its creator to feed it. My energy gets sucked up creating barriers to keep my drive to write the story from mucking up my daily life. I'm not as able to switch between worlds, focus my attention. It's like a constant siren's song.

This is the choppy water and sharp rocks that the artist wonders if I'm strong enough to take. There are real cuts and bruises in this journey, real impossible choices and no right answers. The regular people think not finishing is just a matter of losing interest, letting go of a fancy. The artist knows that if I don't finish, it will be a conscious decision to lower my expectations of myself in the face of "too much."  The artist knows that if I don't finish, I may never forgive myself.

The tension among all my "must do well"'s creates this moment. This moment when I need to ask myself - do I continue to let this eat up more and more of me because I am so in love with creating, or do I suck up my heartbreak and let it go, "for now"? (you can always come back...I might pick it up again...oh, who am I kidding).

The moment is not here, but it's coming. I feel the earth beginning to rumble with it, a tremor under my bare feet. I wonder what will happen next.