Off and on since the fall, in fits and starts, I return to working on the novel I began a decade ago. I am determined to finish it, still convinced I need to complete it before I can move on to embrace a new big writing project. Like pulling teeth, I revise and edit the existing typed pages. It seems important to bring the writing current. During November’s National Novel Writing Month I write new pages by hand and type them up then promptly lose them. I found them last week—they sit beside me now, await revising and editing. I cull three notebooks full of scribbles and scraps, recycling most of it. Two ancient loose sheets, folded, and two notebooks each open to a page I may want to save sit here, too, a worn red ribbon that held things together resting on top of the pile. I will type these last bits up next week. I want everything clean, no more mess for this next stretch, not knowing what I have, everything in one word document. The manuscript itself will be unwieldy enough, I think. I’m pretty sure I’m writing scenes that will never make it to the book itself. But that part I don’t worry about. I have faith in that part, certain there can be no wasted effort in this, only added depth if I am lucky. And it’s how I find out what’s going to happen—in the writing itself. Lately, I find myself daydreaming about the story. There is a sweetness in that, too. I stare at the pile and pray away my ambivalence, that my resistance might melt and undivided I immerse myself in the writing. And even as I send off that wisp of prayer I feel a gentle tug, a tiny, eager spark. I wonder what my characters are up to now.
Writing a novel is a complex task, as I’m discovering. Here’s something I came across recently on the NPR webpage that has been helpful: “I may write garbage, but you can always edit garbage. You can’t edit a blank page.” — Jodi Picoult
It’s a good thing to keep in mind when we’re trying to make each sentence a little gem.
Ha ha ha ha ha! I never try to make each sentence a gem when I am in the act of writing! I would probably never be able to write ANYTHING!!!! You are sweet to remind me not to worry about that, though. ;-)
Fiction is fun because it unfolds or maybe is discovered in a certain way. Because so much time has sat between each attempt of mine I become afraid that it may not come again. But the delightful thing so far is my characters seem to still be there just waiting for me to return to them!
How kind is that?!?
Oh, and yes to the advice that I simply need to begin writing it again! ;-)