The last time I posted to this blog was more than three years and four months ago. I started the blog, as I then stated, because I wanted to really be the writer I had all my life desired to be, but wasn’t. Or at least hadn’t really been on a consistent basis for a long time. I wanted to explore the craft of writing. I wanted to share my struggles and the things I was learning. I wanted to share my progress on various projects. I wanted writing to be such a mainstay of my daily routine that I couldn’t help but blog about it. Here we are three years later.
About a year and a half after that first post to this blog, I started a third version of the novel I had originally begun in the late summer of 2011. The third time was not the charm. That version died a manic death, as had the two before it, at roughly 50,000 words. The middle. The damned middle. Every. Single. Time.
Like many people, it appears that it is my habit to start big, to start formally, to make it public, to lift high the banner of glory. Then this is how it ends, as the saying goes, not with a bang, but with a whimper. And then I leave off writing altogether. My attempts at this novel are like new year’s resolutions that come periodically instead of at the first of January. My first attempt fizzled after a few months, then picked up again after a few months, then died quickly. A second version was started again roughly thirteen or fourteen months later. Then a third version a year and a half later. And then it all died.
Here we are almost two full years after that last attempt, and five years after the first words were typed. And I have still not let go of the idea. Each version may have died after 50,000 words. But here I am, with that cussed stubbornness born of something other than perhaps wisdom, and trying the blasted thing again.
I haven’t written daily in years. But two weeks ago, a colleague challenged me on just this very thing: Why wasn’t I writing if that was something I like to do, had dreamed of becoming since first grade, and had all the tools and experience and ability and whatever else was necessary to just sit down every dadgum day and write? If I wanted to be a writer, why was I so reluctant to do it and to be called a writer?
His words contained no animosity. It was a simple and straightforward question. If I desired a thing, what was stopping me from pursuing it? If I wanted to be something, why wasn’t I doing the thing I wanted to be? There is just no way to bullshit your way through that answer. Any justifying, any throatclearing, any “yes, but’s” were going to be ruthlessly mowed down by the straightforward “Why?” Did I need to quit my job? Did I need to abandon my children? Did I need to spend money I didn’t have to do it? Did I need to say anything to anyone? Would I accept my own excuses and justifications? To all of these it was a clear and direct: “No.”
So, eight days after that conversation, not at all coincidentally the day after my birthday, I pulled out the large journal that was the repository of all my notes and outlines and comments about the book. And I began again. And for all of the subsequent eight days, I have scribbled and revised and reworked notes, and themes, and obligatory scenes, and conventions, and outlines. And I have planned work and have set a deadline, and have engaged in mathematical calculations and goals and targets.
None of this is really writing. But it is something. And maybe this is my mid-life crisis as I near the half-century mark. But instead of a red convertibles and twenty-something blondes, my attempts to stave off thoughts of my own mortality will result in the rough draft of that long-hoped for dream: a novel.
If nothing else, I have written today. And if only for today, I am a writer. Still.