Writing Is More Pollock Than Monet
I always imagined writing books to be done in big open rooms with huge windows, calm dogs lying at my feet, and surrounded by tall reflective wooden shelves overflowing with leather bound information. I imagined a garden outside, filled with flowers, singing birds, fluttering insects, and lazy cats. I imagined Monet water-colored days of creating worlds, softly lighted foggy mornings of changing perspectives, or at least giving hope and a smile.
Unfortunately, I have discovered my imagination and truth are not really in tune with each other. I love writing, and I’ve been doing it since I could hold a crayon in my hand. Writing is where I go to both disappear and to be present. It is something that I know I was called to do, but the actual act, performance, and completion of a novel hasn’t matched my dreams or beliefs.
The words are hard – trying to set the scenes, figure out the characters, and make them likable. The editing comes next, which can feel like moving a mountain into the proper place. The tasks unfold from there - the anxiety attacks wondering if it’s good enough, if the people will laugh, or if I was too cheesy or mentioned God too many times. And then I spend days or weeks with my demons telling me I’m not worthy of reaching my simple dreams.
When writing a novel, I am sleepless, my dreams filled with their stories. When editing, I’m nervous, agonizing over any mistake. And when releasing the work to the world, I’m as scared as a three-year-old who knows the monster is in the closet and about to attack.
I thought those things were hard, and I have to say that I have grown comfortable with my known, mostly organic, and individual fears, but the world is what freaks me out. Writing a novel is a hellish roller coaster ride, the emotions are real, and if I don’t feel it, the reader certainly won’t, but the hardest thing is the world, and the odd interruptions that occur in the process.
Although I haven’t kept a journal of the oddities that have happened, from a short list I can say – squirrels, birds, and bats in the house (and let’s not discuss the palmetto bugs), car wrecks in the yard, weird disputes from the unexpected, peculiar requests from acquaintances or people from a nearly forgotten past, knocks on the door to borrow items, fights on the street, falling trees, inexplicable technical problems, power outages, and broken keyboards. All of those things may happen on any given day, I suppose, but they never seem to happen on a day when I’m not writing, and not deep in a story.
My imagination, and yes, my dreams, paint writing as a smooth enjoyable experience, but reality has shown it’s rather horrible. My mind wants gentle breezes, soft sunsets, and deep leather chairs holding onto satisfaction; reality has shown raging storms full of falling rocks breaking through the walls with burning interruptions - an invisible war zone that only I feel.
I suppose it is only trust and faith that keeps me doing it, or maybe an indescribable need to quench something inside that I didn’t design and can’t control. They say we must choose our battles in life, and I suppose this is my war. I must write beyond the interruptions, fight the distractions, and know that the harder I try, the better, and stronger I become.
Novel writing ain’t for sissies.
As usual, keep trying and keep seeking.