Last month, as I was feeling like a fraud for not seeing National Novel Writing Month beyond the confines of November, I wrote a post where I essentially questioned my validity as a writer. I was having a problem where I wanted to finish my novel, but I just couldn’t muster up the ambition to do it. I had built up quite the momentum in November, sometimes writing as many as four thousand words a day, and when I crossed the fifty thousand word mark days before the deadline, I crashed. I was burnt out and convinced that I had no more ideas and could give no more to this story right now. I kept saying that I would go back to it, but it’s hard to say how seriously I would have taken that promise.
This obviously begs the question, “Why do all of that work for nothing?”
I needed encouragement from a few friends. I needed someone to point it out to me that there are so few things I can control in my life right now, so it makes sense for me to channel my energy into something that I can control. So I’m proud to announce that for a little over a week now, I’ve been back to writing regularly. I’ve worked on the novel almost every day, refusing to let myself seriously edit until it’s finished, and it’s more than 140 pages double-spaced right now. The days when I couldn’t work on it, I wrote something (usually cover letters, but sometimes blogs). The topic is still pretty secret for right now. Call that something I’ve retained to appease my stubborn side, but I just don’t want to jinx myself.
There’s a strange sense of relief that I feel from just giving up on being stubborn, but it’s a really difficult thing to do. I feel as though continuing to work on my novel is what I wanted to do, and what I would have done if I could have just gotten out of my own way and stopped telling myself that I couldn’t do it. Clearly, I can. Much of my problem surely had to do with the fact that I knew I was going to have to come up with an ending eventually. In my creative writing classes in college, endings always gave me the most trouble. Conclusions to academic papers gave me headaches. I always feel like the ends of my blogs are weak, often cheesy or forced. I am quite sure that there’s a certain psychology to this — I’m absolutely lousy with goodbyes, too. Endings just aren’t my thing. But there I was, suffering something like separation anxiety from my novel.
I could have just as easily written this blog about how writing a book is a lot like maintaining any kind of relationship: you bring the same strengths and weaknesses to your writing. It takes just as much effort, and you get what you give (although I’m not certain that last part always holds true in any case). If you don’t pay attention to your novel, there’s nothing left (except maybe a lot of wasted time). In the end, I decided I’m just going to have to jump and see where I land. The ending might be totally terrible, but at least I can control it. I’m just happy to be involved again.