You may have heard someone – maybe an English teacher or a writing coach- say that everyone has one good novel inside them. I would alter that a bit and say everyone has one unfinished novel inside them. Because finishing a novel is hard. I’ve tried. I have bits and pieces of one in a drawer and every so often I open the drawer and look at it – three thumb drives and a stack of papers – and wonder what I’ll do about it.
I started it years ago when I was in a writing group. I really enjoyed the group and met some wonderfully creative people but after a few years I stopped going. I had several reasons at the time. Joe had retired and we needed to tighten the financial belt. Paying a writing coach felt like a hobby I could no longer afford. Also, changes at my work had resulted in more duties and demands at a time when I had hoped to cruise into retirement myself. I found I had little energy for anything extracurricular. But the main reason was the writing got hard. I couldn’t bring the bits and pieces together and make them fit into any kind of plotline. It seemed the characters kept wandering off into other stories. I couldn’t see an end. So I quit.
I opened the drawer again a few days ago and asked myself the same question. Now that I’m retired and stuck at home for the un-foreseeable future, am I going to go back to the task? Because it is a task. So why do it? There are so many good and not-so-good novels out there. The world isn’t waiting for mine.
I think to succeed as a writer of novels, you not only have to have talent, you have to have ambition and drive as well. You have to believe what you are doing is serious and important. And that is at odds with my constant effort to let things go. Letting go is what meditation and yoga have been teaching me for years.
On the other hand, wouldn’t it be nice to actually finish it? To accomplish a task I found difficult? If, for no other reason than to know I did it. And I still sometimes think about the people I created and their stories. I apologize; all this navel gazing sounds so lame but that is the purpose of this blog, I guess. I enjoy writing when it’s not hard.
Letting go of that drawer full of words seems almost as hard as trying to put them all together and finish the story.