“I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” Toni Morrison
It will be awhile before I can type the metaphorical "The End" on mine, but yes. And I hope that I end up writing several more that I want to read. Whether or not they are novels anyone else wants to read will be determined later, but I cannot picture doing work like this any other way and, in the end, I really don't care.
The odds of ever making a living wage from writing fiction are so long that if it is not a labor of love, there is no reason to do it at all. And I suspect that the only people that I actually care about reading it will read it if it is published or not.
Don't get me wrong, I'll try, and it would be wonderful if all the hard work pays off with publication, but that cannot be my motivation for actually doing this or I never will. What is driving me is not the desire to start collecting rejection letters, but the simple desire of seeing how the story actually ends, not as I plan, but how it works out through the actual process of putting words onto a page, one at a time and seeing how they fit together and where they ultimately lead.
As for the novel I am working on now for NaNoWriMo…
It does not look like I'll get much writing done until Thursday. I am 5K away, which for me is about two solid writing sessions or one long one. Would have liked to have validated for a win already, but life got in the way, so it looks like its going to be something of a squeaker this year.
But, the ball is in my hands. It is up to me if I win or lose. The great thing, when I started on November 1, this was my first year and I had no idea if I could do this or not. 26 days later, I know I can, whether or not I get the last 5K in on time or not, which is a pretty awesome feeling, especially considering what an insane and heavy month this was for myself and my family.
As I’ve written, here or elsewhere, I am not sure, this is the third novel that I’ve started. The first one was a fairly formulaic fantasy novel that I wrote about 140 pages of in high school. The second one was a complex, strange thing that was both semi-autobiographical and a dive into magical realism (though I never quite got around to writing those parts)…
The second one kind of broke my heart. I was in a transitional place in my life and took about six months or more to just work on the novel. And then it died on me. I just couldn’t find the thread of the thing that pulled it together and pushed it towards any sort of resolution. Really, I knew this then and over the 12 years since then, I can see this even more clearly, I just wasn’t ready to write that book yet. I did not have the life experience I needed to pull that one off yet. Someday. I still have a hard copy, though the word files died on a hard drive several years back.
That was a tough experience, though. I put a lot into that work only to have it die on me, unfinished and unfinishable. It may, in fact, be why I have done almost no creative writing since then except for a few poems back around 2005 or so and a few song lyrics back in 2008. I didn’t want to risk another broken heart and I didn’t want to risk a six month or longer investment on a project that could die with no real returns on my investment.
As for the first novel, in some ways the novel I am working on now is a direct descendant. I never really let those ideas go and over the last quarter century or so, those ideas have morphed into another, complex and long novel that I will probably write in the next couple of years. I’ve actually spent years researching and developing the world that novel is set in.
My NaNoWriMo novel is not that book, but it is set in the same universe.
So, as I head back south to California today and finish my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo tomorrow and Friday, I am remembering. Yes, this may be the first novel I finish (or have a fair shot at finishing), but it is not the first, and while I may not have been writing much for the last decade or so, the process of being a novelist has been happening the whole time, quietly in the background.
I am very excited that all that work is starting to actually pay off with some words on a page and, in another month or two, I look forward to finishing an actual draft of a book. While I might not actually write “The End” on the last page, it will feel damn good when I reach the point where I can, if I choose to, write those words.