The marriage of writing

For the first time in a number of years, I hit a roadblock. Not just any roadblock, a hard, brutal, gigantic roadblock.

Let me explain.

First and foremost, I am a poet.  Second a short story writer, and lastly and quite recently, a novelist.  I am a rather promiscuous writer.  In a sexual sense? no. but in the writing sense.  I will often write something, and like a one night stand, rarely ever return to it.  Editing to me is like marriage.  I only wanted to love this work for one time, not put in countless hours of getting to know it, have intimacy with it, or god forbid, die with it.  This is why writing a novel scared me shitless.  Writing a novel is marrying a piece of work.  I never thought I’d settle down.

However last year, I thought I had found the one that just might make me do such a thing.  I loved the main character, the world I was building and the story.  But my writing group brought up plot problems I was hesitant to deal with and my love was starting to wane.  Then I went to an awesome writing conference.

I fell back in love in a huge and embarrassing way.  But!  Something else happened.  My novel wanted to have the talk.  It wanted to know what my intentions were, what the future held for us?  Would I leave it like I had left others?  Would I leave it with a sloppy broken mess of what could have been?  And how could I do that with everything we had shared, and all the scenes left unwritten?

I had no answer.  All I could do was read writing books, and stare at a blank word page. I re-read scenes and begged for a whisper from the muse.  There were long silent rumblings in bed.  What if I was dried up?  What if I had forgotten how to write?  What if I could no longer hear or see my main character?  Would I ever be able to do my character justice?

For a whole day I sat with the conclusion that I wasn’t good enough for this novel.  I wasn’t a good writer, and everything felt foreign between me, the keyboard, and the page.  I now had 8 fingers on one hand and twenty on the other.  I couldn’t type type, read, or think.  I was a dead and deformed writer whose novel would never see the light of day.  How do you say goodbye to your first real writing relationship?

If you are lucky like me, your novel saves you.  Almost two weeks ago, I heard her.  I heard my main character.  It was a whisper at first, then a shout.  She was fighting for us, for her, and all the words waiting to be written.  We weren’t over, we weren’t going to be over., and the muse finally sang in my ear.

I rewrote my first chapter over again and for the first time, I knew it was good.  On that day, I told my novel I would commit.  I was ready to do the work.  I couldn’t promise my self doubt would never creep back up again, but when it did, I’d work through it for us.

Have you ever been saved by your novel? Or divorced one?



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