“If I had a year off, I’d write a novel,”
Maybe you would. Maybe you wouldn’t. Often the greased slide to writer’s block is a huge batch of time earmarked: “Now write.” Making writing a big deal tends to make writing more difficult. Keeping writing casual tends to keep it possible.
And literally she read my mind. I had thought, “Maybe, I’ll write a novel… but I really don’t have time. I’ll stick to poetry.”
Later in the chapter she writes,
The “if-I-had-time” lie is a convenient way to ignore the fact that novels require being written and that writing happens a sentence at a time. Sentences can happen in a moment. Enough stolen moments, enough stolen sentences, and a novel is born – without the luxury of time.
So I decided to try it. And the past couple of days I’ve been sick in bed so in between napping I’ve been writing down sentences shooting for a novel. And it’s funny I’ll get going a little bit and then stop – not knowing where to go next. And as soon as I stop I start thinking. Oh no! Am I ever going to be able to finish this?? Is it going to be any good??
And I realized yesterday that all the art I’ve ever done has taken no more than a couple of hours. I haven’t taken on projects that take weeks and months to finish. I write a poem, I finish it, and I immediately decide whether it is any good. So this concept of writing something that will take weeks or months to finish is in some ways terrifying. How will I know if it’s any good until I finish? And how can I trust that it’s good enough to keep going?
So I’m heading into uncharted territories – and some parts of it are amazing as funny ideas spring out from no where. And the characters emerge from the page taking on quirks and heading in directions I hadn’t planned for them. And other parts of it are scary.
And so I’m learning to lean into the discomfort of not knowing where it’s going and somehow when I am able to do that, is exactly when the characters surprise me in amazing ways. And it’s kind of like life – I don’t really know where it’s going and the more I am okay with not knowing the more interesting opportunities emerge.
So slowly but surely – a sentence at a time – I am learning to live, and I am learning to write.