And you want to know why that is? It’s because standard fiction is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to write.
From the time I was about seven, I knew I wanted to write novels. I think my first stab at it happened when I was about eight, on my parents’ green-screen, 8-bit computer’s clunky word-processing program. I saved it on those gigantic floppy disks that were actually floppy. And through all of my school years, I kept working on stories. I’d get out of writing book reports by convincing my teachers to let me write a “short story” instead. And then I’d turn in a 40-page monstrosity of a rip-off of somebody else’s work. Or I’d rewrite a story we’d read from class from another character’s point of view. (I think I did that for “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” in high school.)
After I’d left academia, I kept writing “short” stories (which were probably novellas, really). I had one published by an indie outlet in New York City as a chapbook once. But that’s as far as I got with it. Once my journalism work got going, I stopped writing fiction. And once I started doing journalism and a full-time job, all the time and energy I might have put into it disappeared.
Now, I regularly edit other people’s novels. I coach people through the process of writing novels. I examine novels from every angle, turn them inside out. But I still haven’t written one.
And the thing is, I have one to write. I’ve been mulling over a particular idea for at least a decade. I’ve outlined it. But I haven’t started writing it. I’ve given myself every excuse, every reason, every opportunity to not write it.
Because I’m terrified that when I finally set out to do the one thing I have literally wanted to do my entire life…I might suck at it. And I don’t know if I could handle that.
Which is ridiculous. Of course I’ll suck at it. No matter how much I know about writing and editing books, there’s no way around the fact that my first draft of my first novel is going to be bad. I even know that that’s okay, and I also know that I’m a great editor. So I know I can turn it from bad into acceptable and maybe even okay.
And still…I never have the time. When I do have time, I’m too tired. Oh, whoops, look! A social engagement I have to attend! Oh, gosh, my chronic illness is giving me bran fog. And on and on it goes.
I’m in my mid-thirties. Soon to be my late thirties. I have a great idea. I can’t keep putting it off.
So I’ve made a decision:
In October, I’m going to practice writing fiction. I have a short story I’ve been pondering for few years which, during the rest of October, I’m going to do just a little bit of work on every day. I’m going to work out the kinks in my fiction-writing stride.
And when November hits—BAM! NaNoWriMo! If I can’t light a fire under my own butt, I’m going to let a massive worldwide writing challenge do it for me. By the end of the month, I’ll have a working draft of my novel. That working draft will probably be horrendous. But it will exist.
So, please forgive me for this long and rambling post. Please forgive me while I blog less for a few months—I’ll be writing.
Wish me luck!
…and now to go write fiction after spending an hour on this blog post. lol
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