• book,  storytelling,  writing

    Apparently, Writing a Novel is Hard

    The Ancient of Days
    William Blake, 1794

    “Think in the morning.  Act in the noon.  Eat in the evening.  Sleep in the night.” 

    William Blake

    “How do you do it?” a friend in my writing group asked. “How do you turn in this many pages? As a working mother? How did you get this much writing done in a month? How is it possible?”

    The answer, my friends, is four thirty a.m.

    I hate typing that out loud.

    I am a morning person. It’s true. But no one is a that early of a morning person. I certainly am not. But I’ve set a deadline for revising my novel and I realized a few months back that I didn’t have a prayer of meeting the deadline if something in my life didn’t change. And so I sighed and gnashed my teeth and adjusted my alarm clock to go off at an ungodly hour because it is the only hour in my day where no one needs me.

    I’m tired.

    Stephen King famously said that you should finish your first draft in three months if you were at all serious about it. The idea of it is absurd to me — perhaps it is lack of practice, but I am just not a very fast writer. And so I do what all slow runners do: I put on my shoes and get out there anyway, counting on persistence to pull me through the spots that natural talent won’t.

    But every time I want to go back to sleep and ignore the alarm, I remember my friend’s words. How do you get this much writing done? Apparently, if you put the work in, it happens. If you show up, day after day after day, eventually you get there. But you have to show up. Day after day, you have to rise from your dreams and put in the work. Even if it means that you are half-dead and dragging yourself through your real world obligations by Thursday afternoon.

    William Blake (1757–1827), Dante and Statius sleep while Virgil watches from Purgatorio

    After all, the draft gets closer and closer to completion each week. It’s solid proof that I have done A Thing.

    And so, each morning, I put in my hour. I try not to complain. Too much.

    I am getting there. I have six chapters left to revise in my far-too-long first novel. I have two and a half months before my Significant Deadline. I can almost taste the joy of completion. If I can just keep going, I’m going to make it.

    I want this more than I have wanted anything in a very, very long time.

    But when it’s finally done, I am going to sleep for days.

  • art,  book,  books,  storytelling,  writing

    A Thing That Happened

    Sometime in the middle of the month, I wrote THE END on the first draft of my novel, THE MOZART GIRL.

    It’s a biopic about Nannerl Mozart and yes, there is a tremendous amount of work to do yet, and I am getting ready to jump with both feet into the revisions now that Christmas has passed.

    I’m excited.

    This is the first completed novel that I’ve written as an adult and it has been a long and meandering journey to do it. I’ve already learned so much about what to do next time, because it has taken me three times as long as it should have to complete what I have. I’ll be throwing out a lot of material, since it’s about twice as long as it ought to be, but I love that, because it means that what I keep will be improved for it.

    It’s the time of year where we set our resolutions and intentions for the new year and there can only be one for me, which is to finish the damn novel already. I took my first steps in this story line four years ago, though the story that I began to write back then was a completely different story arc from the one I settled on. But I have been thinking about the Mozart family for half a decade now and I am, dare I say it, pleased with where the work has taken me.

    This is a book that has been written in the margins of my life, in the crevices formed between other obligations, in the hours after bedtime and before the work day, in the minutes stolen between the endless march of all my other responsibilities. And it has been written in dribs and drabs, sometimes in little spurts of energy, and sometimes in long months of sustained effort that have required sacrificing personal relationships as I raced to a word count that was both arbitrary and exhausting.

    2016 and 2017 were the years I researched my novel. 2018 was the year that I wrote it. 2019 is the year in which I remold it until it is fit to be shown to the world. And then, what will happen then? Will I finally believe that this is a thing that I can do?