The Scary Truth

Do you remember what my writing desk used to look like? I told you things would change:

Picture that with a number of coffee cups, an empty pretzel bag, several wadded tissues, tons of teeny paper scraps, and a dozen gum wrappers, and that's how it looks these days. Next time I take a picture, I'll do it before the cleaning. I was too embarrassed today.

So March is almost over, and it occurred to me that if I didn't post here this weekend, I wouldn't get a "March 2008" link under my archives list. And that bothers the OCD in me.

Usually I have blog ideas up the wazoo (95% of them never make it here due to my excessive laziness), but today I find myself challenged. So perhaps I should talk about that. Challenges. Goals. And writing. Because right now, these three are one in the same for me.

I'm in the deep, dark midst of writing a novel. And it's not like my previous attempts. In the past, novel writing has felt like being kicked out of a helicopter into the middle of a big scary ocean. And I lie on my back and try to float and frog-kick my way through it to the shore, but I always wind up wearing myself out. And that's when the sharks devour me.

This time I'm still in a big scary ocean. But I have a life preserver. A very tiny, flimsy one, but a life preserver nonetheless. And I think I'm wearing flippers. Which are speeding me along, to the best of their ability.

I can't explain it much better than that, other than I have hope for the first time. The shore is still far away. But I know it is there. And the sharks are circling underneath, but they aren't hungry yet.

It never ceases to amaze me how difficult writing a novel is. Or how something I love so much can be so hard to sit down and do. That's the hardest part. Sitting down. And typing.

But I LOVE my current novel. I hate it too, of course. It's only natural. But the love is so much stronger. And every time I manage to get my butt in my chair, I never want to leave my novel behind. I mean, it causes me actual, physical pain to say goodnight to my characters. To go to my REAL job, the one that pays.

I hope that someday writing will be my real job. But if I ever want to be one of the few, one of the fortunate (And I do! So badly!), it will only come with hard work. Working past blank pages and bad dialogue and embarrassing cliches. And doing it everyday, even when I feel gross and stupid and tired and frustrated.

One of my favorite writers, Shannon Hale, says that "writing a novel is not for sissies." She says, "No one can write a book. It's too long and complicated. But I can make some sentences. I can find some characters. I can put them into scenes. And slowly, slowly, the book will come."

And from Neil Gaiman: "You write. That's the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days . . . The search for the [right] word gets no easier but nobody else is going to write your novel for you."

So this is my plan. Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing.

It's all I can do.

And it is the only thing that will get the job done.


  1. Your desk is adorable! I love the pink and green. Yay, color! Also love your words about novel writing, and I'm glad to hear it's going well for you now. Look forward to meeting you in Washington!!

  2. Yay, yay, yay! I'm flattered you stopped by my humble abode. See you in Washington!