October 05, 2008

Real Life Novel Ideas

Boo. Banned Book Week is over. I had planned to do a whole bunch of ranting on particular books that are fabulous but being challenged, and talk about how, while I understand the fears that people have for their kids that banning isn't the answer and reading is, and talk about how all of the challenges and rechallenges of certain books are getting on my nerves, and thus create a bunch of scintillating posts.

Instead, my real life took over.

Our household had two days of food poisoning/stomach ick during which I wrote four more chapters on my current work-in-progress with very little sleep, went to Bach rehearsal, signed up for a German course at the University, cleaned the house, actually dusted, which I hate, went to the chiropractor, got lost in the East end of the city (I've been here a year, and still occasionally take the wrong bus) and then received a big box of advanced review copies for my next novel.

After that, I kind of panicked and spun out for a day.

August was not a good writing month for me, and I feel like I wasted a lot of time, though any time you write isn't really wasted, exactly. I ditched six versions of my novel which wouldn't have worked, and really, it's better that I ditched them then my agent having to do it with a worried look in his eyes. However, the fact is I really need to work hard and finish my current manuscript. And, since it's a new style of writing for me, I'm kind of terrified I can't.

Fear always feeds itself, always gets me running around in rodent circles, always nibbles on the edge of my sanity and piddles doubt everywhere. And in times like these, I go into my email archives, and pull out a letter I received last September from my absent Muse and remind myself to take a breath already.

Take a long view of this. Your career is more than one book. This is your grand adult life where you get to be a professional writer. Who do you want to be in that context? How do you want to act and feel? What kinds of books do you want to offer the world? Who are the people you want to serve?

I think a writer does best when she treats a book like Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) did. (The Shrinking Violets wrote about this recently too) -- Elizabeth wrote her book for one friend who was down. Just one. She found her person and told them a story of her own life. The book was intimate and loving and personal -- and that feeling of "this is for me" was felt by so many people that the book turned into a huge NY Times bestseller.

I think I've found the person to whom I am writing this book. I think I've found my niche. Now, all I have to do is trust my novel ideas, and remember how to work.

It's never easy, but I hope you find your place in the world, too. And if you periodically get lost, come back, and read this again. Remember who you are, and why you want to write.

Happy Sunday

4 comments:

adrienne said...

I'm working hard on a new writing project just now, so this post is particularly encouraging and timely for me. I find that it's so easy for me to rest on what I know I can do, but I also find I feel the happiest when I try something I'm not sure I can do and manage to make it work. But it can be so hard to get going and just to try.

a. fortis said...

"Piddling doubt" is such a great way of putting it.

All I can say is, I finally found the light at the end of MY tunnel--so, if I can manage that, I have zero doubt that you'll get this done!

I mean, seriously, it's weird--I spent most of the summer and on into September in a total slump, and then the past two days I wrote 8 pages of my novel and a 1500-word article. I don't get it.

Jen Robinson said...

Even though I'm not a writer, I'm still figuring out my place in the world, too, Tanita. But I'm glad to hear you making progress. And congratulation on that box of ARCs. I think it's cool.

TadMack said...

Thanks for the encouragement, guys. Hope more good things happen for all of us.