For a long time now, I have wanted to write for a living. Not technical manuals or freelance articles, but novels. I wanted to write novels that people would pay to read. And yet, I find myself more than a few years beyond the first blush of youth, and still, no one is paying me to write.

This is a blog about writing, about my desire to become a novelist, about the experiences that have led me here, and about the sometimes tortuous paths we must follow to get what we want out of life. It’s also about the process of translating longing into action.

Several years ago I was an aspiring novelist. Aspiring because I wanted to have written a novel, but I had no novel at all. But now, I am a novelist. I have a novel. As it turns out, writing a novel is time consuming and slow and very, very hard. Also, at times it’s boring and often it’s terrifying, but not corporeally so.

How did I get from no novel to have novel? That story could be a blueprint for the achievement of any goal. I worked at it, then I worked at it some more, and then some more. I started out by doing a few rounds of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which taught me that I can churn out a lot of words in a short amount of time. That the words did not create a complete narrative was a small detail – I conquered my internal editor and for that I will be forever grateful to Chris Baty, the founder of NaNo.

But yeah, it turned out that slamming out 50,000 words in a month, while virtuous in itself, was not actually a direct path to fame as an author *ahem*. So, in 2009, I took 2008’s NaNo attempt and started wrestling it into a coherent narrative. It has taken a long time, and I’m not quite done yet. I have snatched time where I could find it and sequestered myself in hotel rooms and cabins away from the dishes and laundry and beckoning chores and bicycles and friends at home. I have faced blank pages and feared that I was not going to meet my self-imposed deadlines, and I have faced rafts and rafts of words and despaired that they were not the right words. I have panicked and written and panicked some more. I have probably discarded more words than I have kept.

Is there a moral to this story? If there is, it’s perhaps nothing more profound than a plug for consistency (though not of the foolish type), and for making sure to give attention, as often as possible, to the things you care about the most.

I still don’t know where this is going to end. Maybe I’ll polish my novel as much as I am able, and still won’t be able to sell it. Maybe I’ll get a publishing deal and it will sell lots and lots of copies. I don’t know, but I do know this: I don’t want to be one of those people who talks about what I might do some day. I want to be one of those people who just does it.

Posted by lesherjennifer

6 Comments

  1. If Malcom Gladwell’s “Outliers” is correct, the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. Sounds like you’re right on track!

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  2. Best of luck on the journey – it is a long one, and let no one ever say it is not a hard one, but hopefully, with dedication, skill, and a touch of luck, you will be one of those that pushes through to see dreams become reality.

    All the best, from one writer to another!

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  3. And we’ll be able to say “We knew her when …”

    Will it be soon?

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  4. Good for you! I will be following your blog.

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  5. Best of luck, Jen. You are doing the most important part right now – keeping at it. Here is a favorite quote of mine from a fellow author (comes with a measure of self-deprecating snark, which is how I like my affirmations :):

    Believe you will succeed. Self-delusion is more productive than self-doubt.

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  6. Thanks all for the encouragement. Steve, I think it’ going to be at least the middle of 2012 before I think the manuscript is ready for submission. I’m told it can be another couple of years after that for publication, but we’ll see how it goes.

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