Write and Write and Write
At the top of my to-do list, an ever-evolving string of reminders and chores, is the directive “Write and write and write.” It’s always the first item, at the top of the morning, a small, nudging cheerleader telling me three years into doing this full-time that yes, writing is really what I’m supposed to be doing every day. Not in a half-baked, lazy way, either. Lots of it. No matter what.
I’ll tell you what’s daunting: sitting back from the mid-chaos of another major overhaul of a novel and finding you need to turn on the heat in the house because another season is starting and you’re still working on the same book you were writing the year before. I’m not talking about just tweaking a line or two in whimsical, polish-the-tines, touch-up mode, either. I am, yet again, writing entire scenes and acts from scratch.
Clunk. Head on keyboard. A writer friend of mine told me the other day he was abandoning a novel that he’d taken to its third draft where it still wasn’t working, and you know what my secret reaction was? Envy. He gets to abandon his novel, I thought with longing.
Then I laughed at myself. I would never give up this beast of a book. It is hooked deep into my marrow, and the truth is, even when the drafting seems endless, it adds up. This gnarly book is improving. Each time I throw out another fifty-page chunk and patch in a new one, I can see that the new section makes better sense. It still isn’t there. It still hasn’t arrived at the ball with all its slippers on, so to speak, but it’s no longer a sniveling kitchen maid back in the ashes, either.
We all write differently, I remind myself. Each book shows up differently, too. I wish I had better control of my discovery process for this novel, but evidently, I don’t. The best I can do is write and write and write.