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Archive for July, 2010

Okay, one week down and no, I have not written every day.  I have  jotted, scribbled, and otherwise noted down, but I have not written.  This week has been the same routine Monday through Sunday: wake up early before my wife, enjoy a quiet cup of coffee while perusing book related websites, write down ideas and questions concerning the Book (and the three books after it – a nasty habit I have of getting ahead of myself), start work, end work, sleep, repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

It’s a good life in that I have a home, food, and steady employment.  It’s a bad life in that I am not living the way I want to live and I am turning selfish, irritable, and resentful.  The people around me do not deserve this.  This is why the journey is imperative.

I can’t stay here safe and warm and miserable. It’s time to go. It’s time to do the big, scary things I don’t want to do and do them the only way I can – alone.

On the positive side, I learned this week that I have not adequately prepared the map for my trip.  My outline for the Book is vague and unfinished.  I simply do not know enough about the characters or the storyline.  Ken Follett said he prepares a thirty to forty page outline before he writes.  He shares this for feedback and then does two more drafts.  Of the outline.  And this after the research.  I need to do this for my story because I know it is the kind of story that needs to be paced correctly with at least a basic idea of how everyone gets to the end.  I was hesitant about this before but the way Follett described the outline and how he uses it convinced me that it need not be another tool of over-thinking and procrastination.  It is a tool with a specific use.  It is a skeleton supporting the life and movement of the writing.

(A word here about genre writers versus real writers.  I think genres are useful for publishers, editors, marketers, and booksellers.  I think genres are useless and misleading for writers, readers, and critics.  I love Follett’s writing.  He is a master storyteller who can write a “thriller” or a “literary fiction novel” just as easily – “one day I make a table, one day I make a chair,” as Ian M. Banks said.  After the last Follett book I read, I read a collection of short stories by Andre Dubus.  I was blown away by the Follett  in a different way from the Dubus book, but I was still blown away.  They are both master storytellers.  When I go to the library this afternoon, I plan on picking up Virginia Woolf, Steve Helprin, William Maxwell, and Jim Butcher.  Conclusion: to Hell with genres.)

Today is more work at the day job.  I will try to be grateful for what I have and do the best I can.  I desperately want to pick up my notebook and flee, but I have responsibilities.  Also, constantly suppressing the urge to run away is a hard and unnecessarily stressful way to approach life.

I  learned something this week and that is a victory. The outline idea has given me some energy and drive.  I know now what the next step is.  The map is becoming clearer and it is time to get moving.

My love, I do this for me, for you, and for us.

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Foreword

I have known for about six years now what it is I need to do: I need to write a  book.  Yes, I want to be a Writer – I want to support myself by writing and never have to work for anyone ever again.  I want to see my name on books in every bookstore I pass.  I want to see people reading something I wrote.  I want all that.  But I know now that I also need it.  Writing is all I think about and all I want to do.

But I have not been doing it.

I have been running from myself and ignoring the voice inside me telling me the truth.  I’ve been too afraid to sit down and write something terrible.  Too afraid to remake my life in order to make time and space for the work.  Too afraid to leave the comfortable routine of my life and give up the familiar feelings of frustrated ambition.  It’s been much easier whine and feel victimized by life than to take responsibility for my dreams.

A week from today I will turn thirty-six.  I have not finished a book and it’s killing me.  Last month I felt twinging pains in the left side of my chest.  There is a history of heart disease in my family and many of my male ancestors have died at my age.  I’m not going to let that happen to me.  It’s time for me to act.

So I’m setting out to write the book.  I don’t know what I’m doing.  I’ve scribbled a lot of notes over the past couple of years and written a few fragmentary short stories.  But I’ve stayed on the surface of my writing and haven’t put in the daily, disciplined work required to get better and go deeper.  I’m still a beginner.  Looking over my notebooks, I see flashes of potential.  Something is there.  It’s hiding out there in the wilderness and I have to find it.

My plan is simple.  I’m going to leave home one day soon and set out to find My Novel. I don’t know where it is, but I know I can find it if I start looking. The only map to My Novel is the one I draw myself. I’ll leave a trail of crumbs here on the blog in case I get lost.

I wish someone could point me in the right direction. But if they could, I wouldn’t go. I hate when people tell me what to do.

I have nothing to take with me but a few pens and other survival tools.  Everything else I plan to find along the Way.  This journey will lead to fortune and glory, or end with my own fiery death.

I’m looking forward to the work and the trip.  To be honest, I’m not looking forward to changing my life, but I know I’m in a rut and I know on the other side of all this, I’ll be much happier.

As Mencken said, “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.” And that time is now.

Metaphorically speaking of course…

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