You Guys, I Wrote a Novel
You guys, I wrote a novel.
Like, a literal novel. Not just an email to my husband on how to manage our kids while I’m away at a writer’s conference.
I wrote a true, beginning-middle-end, completed-story-arc, dialogue-and-description, honest-to-God novel.
You may have noticed, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Like 8 months or something. Or 10. I’ve lost count. Plus I’m bad at math.
I was beating myself up over this. I felt pretty good about my regular posting and when I stopped, it felt like I’d failed at something I loved to do.
And I felt guilty. It was the kind of guilt that nags and nags and consumes until finally you’ve got to either re-adjust your thinking or just do it already. But doing it wasn’t an option so I readjusted my thinking. I wasn’t posting because I couldn’t, plain and simple. “I can’t” are some very hard words to say. I choked a little getting them out.
It’s O.K. I eventually came to peace with “I can’t.”
I’ve got three young children and I was working full-time and trying to volunteer and pretending to keep my house clean. (Plus, laundry. Am I right? Ugh, that pile NEVER shrinks. It only grows.). I realized I was too busy. My blog would have to wait. Learning to say “I can’t” is a serious talent that I often don’t possess. And I am determined to work hard and developing that talent. It’s an important phrase.
I’ve always been the idiot standing back and saying, “Well, why won’t this work? Come on, let’s just try and see what happens?” and before you know it my car goes off a miniature man-created cliff in the middle of a parking lot and three very kind gentlemen have to help my friend and me lift it up and push it back onto the level of concrete where it belongs and I end up driving away red-faced and peeing-my-pants from laughing.
I mean, that’s just a hypothetical.
My point is, It’s O.K. to not do all the things.
Anyway, back to my point. Something I did do?
I wrote a novel.
Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). I spent the summer after my third grade year doing two things. I could be found sitting in my bedroom in a blue bean bag chair making quite good friends with Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny as I tore my way through the Boxcar Children series.
If I wasn’t there, chances were I was sitting in front of the green blinking cursor on the tiny screen of my sister’s brand new Brother Word Processor. That summer, I plucked out the beginnings of a charmingly boring story about a family with five girls.
It had no plot line, no purpose, no goal other than getting words that sounded pretty together down on paper.
I loved that story. I soaked in the positive feedback from anyone who’d pretend to read it. The family of characters I’d developed lived delightfully in my head. I don’t remember their names, but I do remember they were part of a disgustingly idyllic family with no problems at all.
Thus began my love-affair with writing. It wouldn’t go away. Ever. With the self-assuredness of a nine-year-old, I knew, knew, that soon I would be one of the youngest best-selling authors of all time.
Well, I’m thirty-five, so clearly that went bust. But the dream to become an author, someone who makes her living putting words on paper that other people read, never died. That dream beat inside my little dreamer’s heart steadily as each year of my life passed.
That dream beat in my heart when I chose to major in education.
It beat when I went away, and took gen eds in the English department that made my eyes light up with joy.
It beat as I graduated and became an elementary school teacher.
That dream beat away as I met my husband, as I had kids, as I became an assistant principal.
The dream was beat-beat-beating through all of it. A constant companion to my life. A best friend. A shadow. That dream beat so steadily it was as much a part of me as my blue eyes and impossible-to-control hair.
At one point, I realized that in order for this dream to become a reality, I would have to do something.
Dreams don’t make themselves comes true. As much as I wish it was, this isn’t a Disney movie.
So I started this blog.
And it has been so much FUN. Way more than I imagined. Writing here, where I could put my words down and people (maybe just my mom, but whatever) could read them, was energizing. I knew I couldn’t stop. I had to keep writing.
So I wrote a novel.
This novel, written for middle-grade kids (tenish to twelvish), may never see the light of a publishing house. It may remain as a one hundred and forty-two page Word document for the rest of my life. It may simply provide for me emotional support and proof that I can do this.
I did this thing. This thing of finishing a complete and total novel. I thought of a concept. I planned it out and wrote. I revised and edited and repeated a million times. I’ve written queries to agents and I’m attending writer’s conferences.
I am doing it.
I may fail. I know this, of course I do. But that in itself is not failure. I’m trying. I’m putting myself out there for the world to see, to judge, to assess and hand out verdicts of the worthiness of my written word. I am here, vulnerable, open, and prepared for that rejection.
And it feels good.