Writing a Novel

“Writing a novel is a terrible experience … It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.”
Flannery O’Connor

I began my slow transformation into becoming a novelist about five years ago; I don’t know exactly at what point I crossed over the invisible line, but I think it’s safe now to say that I am a novelist.  An amateur one, but a novelist nonetheless.

I could probably describe the experience differently every single day, if I took the time to nail down the emotions.  Some days, writing a novel feels like sitting in God’s will.  Sometimes it feels like a journey.  Sometimes, a rollercoaster.

Tonight, writing a novel feels selfish– but probably not in the way that you’re thinking.  I’m not the one who feels selfish.  I’m the one who feels a little ripped off, actually.  It’s the novel writing itself that seems selfish.  Let me tell you what I mean.

While I am writing a story, I live and breathe that story.  I think about the characters throughout the day.  I cry when I don’t know how to fix their problems.  They break my heart and hurt my feelings.  I see the sky and think, There should be a pink morning in my book.  I hear a co-worker tell a joke and wonder, Is my story funny?  I read a book and realize, A motif!  That is what I need– a motif!!

book friendsBut when I try to set the story aside– not for long, just a week or two– so that I can try my hand at something else (a poem, some flash fiction, brainstorming for the next novel), it cries out to me.  Don’t forget about us.  Don’t let other things cloud your vision.  We refuse to let you push Pause on us.  

See what I mean?  Selfish things.

(The truth is, though, that I miss them.)

But still.  Just a poem.  Or a short scene to post on my blog.  How about a tiny little story just to flex some different muscles?

We thought you loved us! my novel whines.

So I grouse and write about fourteen versions of one crappy first sentence, then say, Forget it, and write a blog post about how I’m a crazy writer whose novel writing takes on a life of its own, an absolutely insane writer who is subject to characters she made up, an out-of-her-mind writer who just wants to work on her novel.

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