Saturday, December 08, 2012
When I was in the fourth grade I entered a writing contest and lost. I came home heartbroken. My mom sat down with me, hugged me close, and told me that the world's greatest authors had drawers just bursting with rejection letters, that I was merely joining their ranks, that I shouldn't give up.
Later that year we were asked to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we were grown up. I drew a picture of myself, sitting in an attic room at a computer, writing, smiling. Next to me was a filing cabinet drawer labeled "rejection letters." When I grew up, I was going to be an author.
But when you really, really, really want something, it's easy to become afraid. You fear failure. You fear that the thing you want the most is the thing you won't be able to have. So you pretend you don't want it. You say you're too busy. You say it's not that great anyway.
I have been afraid of writing fiction for many years. Several years in a row I tried participating in National Novel Writing Month, only to give up within a week. Sitting down to write was the most uncomfortable thing in the world for me. My heart would grow tight. My mind would shut down. I had nothing. There was nothing for me to write. I couldn't write.
And then, just a few months ago, my friend Lara published her own novel. I read it and was so impressed. And at the same time, emboldened. Gosh darn it, I thought. If Lara, who is like me in so many ways, can write a novel, so can I. I did some research about how to write a novel and had a massive breakthrough when I discovered an outlining technique that utilizes a spreadsheet. I love spreadsheets, and knew it was for me. I spent several weeks outlining a novel in detail. And then I closed my eyes and plunged in.
I am now writing a novel. Slowly. But I'm doing it. Several days a week I sit down and work on it. I set a timer for twenty minutes (just like I do when I'm cleaning the house) so I don't get overwhelmed by the prospect of writing interminably. I read an inspirational quote or two. I remind myself that it is okay to suck, to write ridiculous and low-quality fiction, but that it is not okay to hide from your dreams.
And then I write.
So far I have 14 single-spaced pages. I think I might just do it this time.