13 years ago today, I finished writing my first novel.
Heyo, blog! It’s been a minute. Not having written in ages makes maintaining a writing blog, well, like a frying pan: hard. Who knew, right?
Anyway, August 31 is a special day, since in 2008, on that date, I finished my very first full-length novel.
It must have been pretty exciting, considering how many exclamation points I used on the page written in red pen in a spiral notebook when I wrote The End on a novel for the first time.
That was half my life ago now.
- I’ve finished some half-dozen novels, a couple of novellas, and a couple dozen short stories.
- I have several other tales in various stages along the way.
- Haven’t published anything.
- I’ve given up on some publishing dreams, had new ones, given up on those, and need to probably poke one or the other of those dreams awake again one of these days. (The problem with dreams is they’re always napping on the job.)
I can’t help but compare my excited 13-year-old self who had just finished her first novel in a spiral-bound notebook (I think it was like 95K words), who was on top of the moon and enjoyed writing for the sake of it, to my half-my-lifetime-later mid-twenties self who hasn’t written in four months due to . . . something.
If I figure out what, that might help. Exhaustion both physical and emotional, busyness, lack of focus . . . something. I know I should give my writer self the benefit of the doubt — I’ve been dealing with a lot in my life this year and I have a job, neither of which my 13-year-old writer self would understand.
But the fact remains that my writing has been nonexistent or barely-there for a long time now.
My stories are not silent. I’ve had several brainstorms for several of my WIPs these last few months. They knock on the door of my mind, often without warning, sometimes without even knocking — simply barreling the door down and presenting me with new mind-blowing revelations about plots and characters and settings and storylines that I’ve been neglecting on-page for too long.
My stories are not silent. They are alive and bursting with new brainstorms — sometimes a torrential thunderstorm, sometimes a quiet flickering summer lightning storm if I’m busy or tired. But I’m always discovering new things about them as they simmer on the back burner like a patient oatmeal or a scientific experiment waiting to fizzle over and explode — not sure which.
My stories are not silent. It’s only my pen that is.
2020 was bad for my writing. 2021 has been worse.
In 2020 I wrote less than 40% of what I usually write. In 2021, so far, 2/3rds in, I’ve written less than 40% of what I wrote in 2020.
I have a coiled-threads mess of feelings about this that I’m having a hard time untangling.
- Sadness — I haven’t been writing.
- Super Stressed — Will I ever write again?
- Resigned — Well, I’m busy and have no energy, so there’s nothing I can do about it right now.
- Apathetic — Okay but do I really care tho’ [*slaps apathetic self who is probably just tired*]
- Be-kind-to-yourself — Life is stressful and this non-writing is just a season. Breathe. And stop feeling guilty, for the love of frying pans. (Who knew, right?)
I’m not sure which of these is . . . the real thing . . . if there is one.
Did I mention I overthink things? 😛
I’m so proud of you for finishing that first novel! Ethan and company (okay, mostly your Duncan obsession, and the bears too) are in written-book form, and regardless of what happens to it in the future, that’s something awesome.
If you could write a letter to me now, I wonder what you would say?
Would you be impressed at what I’ve written since then? Would you be disappointed I haven’t published anything? Flabbergasted that I could go four months without writing a single thing? Confused at how I’ve managed to make everything that used to be a joy about writing and reading into a chore?
Would you tell me to find my joy again? To write for the fun of it? To breathe in and out and forget that I have failed so many times and instead to just start again?
Start again . . .
That brings to mind the song “Start Again” by Red. (Listen. Or lyrics.) It’s one of the theme songs for two brothers in my WIP The Other Half of Everything.
I’m singing it in my head, to you, past-self. (Even though you don’t like rock music yet.)
Can we start again?Love, your future (now present) mid-twenties writer-self