I can understand that girl in the picture. Not just because I’m the one who drew her, but because I just finished my first novel.
It took a ridiculously long time. Three years. Now, someone told me that isn’t so bad. He says it took him ten years to finish his. Now that’s commitment! I would have managed to misplace it long before that. “Oops, I accidently hit the delete button. Oh, that’s too bad.” But another author I know seems to complete three books a month. All right, that’s a slight exaggeration. But she’s prolific.
How does she do it? Does she eat? Sleep? Use the bathroom? She seems healthy so I’m assuming that she does all those things and yet she still manages to put down plenty of words. And somehow they’re good, too. And she not only has all of those books, but several blogs.
It’s downright embarrassing. But, hey! I finished! That’s all that matters. Right? Right…? (Crickets can be heard rubbing their legs together in the distance).
In all fairness, it wasn’t really three years of writing. I stopped. A lot. I would get distracted by something shiny in the corner of the room and go over there. I’d get short story ideas that I just had to do. But always the novel would sidle up to me and whisper, “You haven’t forgotten me…have you?” No, I hadn’t. How could I?
“So, how’s that novel coming along,” someone would ask.
“Um…yeah…fine, fine,” I’d answer as a bead of sweat worked its way down my forehead.
“What chapter are you on?”
“Nine.” I’d be scanning the area around me, like a nervous cat, seeking a way out.
“Weren’t you on chapter nine three months ago?”
“Yeah…listen, I have to go and write. See ya!” I would slink off, cursing myself for having told someone that I was writing a book. Yes, I could feel their eyes drilling into my back as I slithered off into the shadows. They knew my terrible secret. I was writing a novel that would never get done.
And yet, there were the days of joyous inspiration when I’d bang away at the keyboard and loved every word I was seeing. Yes! I’m doing it! Look at me, I’m finishing the book! And just as suddenly the writer’s block would come back like a recurring bout with Malaria. My family had to go through this roller coaster ride with me. The days when I’d have a big dumb smile on my face because I had just finished another chapter, and the days when no one better talk to me because I had just spent the whole day staring at a blank computer screen. Luckily, my wife is very understanding. Well…except for those times when she’s not.
But I actually finished it. And I think it’s good. And I did love writing it although, like the lady in the cartoon, there certainly is that feeling of finally being free of it. I’m no longer finding it hard to sleep because I can’t get that scene just the way I want it. Or quickly getting up from the dinner table because I just figured out how I want to begin the next chapter and I have to do it right now before I forget.
You’d have to be crazy to want to put yourself through all of that. I guess that explains why I’m working on my second novel.