Writing a short story is like taking a direct path while writing a novel feels as if I’m wandering all over the place. I’m not even fully writing it in order. I’ve written scenes in the middle and toward the end. There is a beginning. I did start there. Except it was right at the end. There’s a cliffhanger and even I don’t know how it ends yet. But it’s a story about becoming, and my word for the year is “stretch,” so I’m stretching to become a novelist.
I wrote one once, one kid and two dogs ago. It is not good (nor should it be). I tried to rewrite it, but my heart wasn’t in it. The book was written prove to myself that I could do it. A Month of Sundays was written so that I could have a published work. Accomplishment for accomplishment’s sake. But this? Finishing this, and I mean finishing it in a way that it might actually be ready to be a book, means that I am fully committing to this writing thing. That I am going to put myself out there for rejection, rejection of something that feels at the moment like it’s actually being extracted from me. That’s some scary shit.
Scary is good. I’m not in mortal danger, simply in danger of taking death blows to my ego, which only feels like you’re going to die. At least that’s what I’m counting on. But this is the stuff of life, isn’t it? Doing what scares you? I’m sure someone told me that once, although I suspect that whoever decided it was a thing was simply trying to reassure themselves. Fear was designed to keep us safe. But not from a politely worded rejection letter from Doubleday.
I’m preparing for failure. It’s not that intend to fail, but if I allow that it could actually happen, I hope to let go enough to make something really good. Right now it feels like it sucks (no, I haven’t read any of it yet) and that there is no there, there and there might never be (how many theres can you write in a row and still have a coherent sentence?).
That’s what first drafts are for, right?