I wonder if anybody who reads this blog now, even remembers NovelRace. Two years may as well be twenty on social media. I don’t mean the book; everyone and their brother-in-law seems to remember that, much to my discomfiture. If you ever decide to write a book, my sincere advice is don’t tell anybody about it. In all likelihood, you’ll never get around to it. If you do, you probably won’t get past a few pages. If you still do, you’ll struggle and struggle and spend so much of time struggling to finish it just to prove people like me wrong that you’ll hate it. Trust me, you don’t want the agony of being constantly asked,
“So…that book you’re writing, when is it coming out?”
Actually I meant my personal diary on being a first time writer. Well, as it turns out, I do know what I’m talking about. I have been through all of that. And you know what, I did it! I finished the goddamn book and there now I’ve said it. Two years and more survived just to be able to say that. Now please don’t kill me by asking when you’ll see it on the bookstores. I didn’t start with a publisher, I haven’t been visited by that fairy godmother common to all writers’ fantasies – a surprise book deal and I haven’t started hunting.
And here I thought this was going to be a nice-and-neat, albeit late wrap-up to the Novelrace post series full of wise maxims on how to write that bestseller. So what can I say that hasn’t been said before? Pretty much nothing, it turns out. What can I say that I haven’t myself said before? Ah, now that’s something to start with.
I don’t feel as exhilarated as I imagined. I still need spell check to get the biggest word in that last sentence right, for instance. Somehow I guess I figured my life would tie up prettily with the culmination of this dream. It hasn’t.
I’ve gone so far down this path that it’s become a busy road now. ‘Writer’ is my profession now and one that I finally feel comfortable saying. I still don’t have a visiting card; I’m not that rid of my neuroses. But it is a part of my identity now.
It’s hard to tell whether the experience of writing changed my life or whether the events of my life shaped the ones in my novel. Either way, great changes were wrought and we stand on this side of 2011, a different person with a different story.
One of the things I really, really struggled with – and this may some day be the reason I quit this work for another – is the fact that I don’t have the right personality for a writer. Make no mistake, writing is a job that requires a personality fit just as much as a corporate job. I came to discover that a writer’s job is one of a recluse, a semi-detached observer of life, a hermit even in the crowds, a loner. I’m many things but tragically, not that. Having to be by myself for days on end, no conversations or chaos or people around me dumbs me to a point of wanting to stab myself with a pen. Thank God I live in the times of a keyboard then ( a pretty blunt instrument that, and even banging it on my head won’t work with this tiny, pretty Netbook) or this would be an obituary you’d have been reading. But my thoughts still, my fingers freeze, my stories die out in isolation. One little trip into the living world, even if it is only to buy vegetables, one chance conversation, on the other hands, sets those wheels churning so fast there are barely enough words in the world to keep up. That’s not a good personality fit at all.
Still, with all of that, I managed to see this baby through, not just once but twice over. Second draft written and done! I guess that deserves all kinds of personal wows and that’s mostly what this post is about. I haven’t really celebrated it at all. I FINALLY WROTE THAT BOOK I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO!!!!
I spent a lot of time being petrified at the thought of finishing this book because I didn’t know what would come next. I don’t. And that feels okay. Wow. Of another sort, this time.
And then there are moments when it seems like just another addition to my CV. I’m still as soppy & messy/sentimental about my people. I’m just as bad with goodbyes, even worse with toxicity in relationships and a control-obsessive terror. I’m no closer to Buddhadom; not to suicide either (that should be a relief to somebody).
What did I learn then? That I could do it. No more, no less. I got nothing more out of this than the secure knowledge that I did do it hence I am able and fit to do it. I guess that’s as fair as life gets.
For the record, I’m the proud writer of a second draft of 82,620 words and exactly 200 pages. How neat is that??!
What next? Wait for the sequel. 😉 Wowwie!