“I like the challenge of trying different things and wondering whether it’s going to work or whether I’m going to fall flat on my face.”
– Johnny Depp
Finally. After all of these years of writing poetry and essays, I finally decided to bite the bullet and give a novel a try. I never thought I could do this. First of all, I have never been the greatest at that whole “follow through” thing. Oh you know how it is – you get these great big grandiose ideas in your mind, and maybe you even actually start on them, but to follow through? Ok, I’m out. That follow through thing takes too much work. On to the next great idea…
You feel me? Been there yourself? Oh yeah – when it comes to follow through, jumping ship has always been my superpower.
And another reason I’ve been hesitant to write a novel? Well, I’m not exactly a ‘fiction’ writer. Most everything I’ve written over the years has just been observations of the world around me, not something that I made up in my mind. Yes, yes, I know all books don’t have to be fiction. There are plenty of great non-fiction books out there in the world. But something I came across once in some “how to be a writer” article or another was this piece of advice that I’ve never forgotten. It said that there is something important that you need to remember when you are ready to take on the challenge of writing a novel.
“Write something that you would like to read.”
Although at first glance that seems pretty obvious, there’s actually much more wisdom to that than you might think. While I have always written poetry and essays, when I go to a bookstore, are the poetry and essay books the first ones I head to? Nope. I like novels. Fiction. I love them. I eat them up. I love the ones about family connections, the ones about mysteries, the ones with a strong, likeable heroine as the main character….all that stuff.
So, why am I not writing that?
Well, other than the reasons I’ve mentioned before, there’s also the big reason. The reason that we all have whenever we’re afraid to rise to any challenge in our lives. What’s that reason, you ask? Well, I think you know.
I’m afraid I’ll fail.
What if I spend all this time writing a fiction novel…and it blows? You know? I mean, it’s highly likely for that to be the case. I’m not a novelist. I’m a beginner. It may never get read by anyone except my boyfriend Richard. (You know he’ll be forced to read it. I’m sure he already thinks I’m a little crazy for talking about these characters as if they were real people as it is…) It may never get published and may just remain a pile of words sitting on a computer hard drive somewhere for the rest of my life.
Or…maybe someone will like it. Maybe it will get published. And read. And (as is the most important thing to me…), identified with. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Eh. Either way. It’s time to try, right?
I compare it to when I first started running. I remember the absolute glee I felt the first time I ran one mile without stopping. (Quotes?) And then the first time I ran an actual 5K. (Poetry?) And then the pride and accomplishment I felt when I ran my first half marathon. (Essays?). Well, now it’s time to rise to the challenge and take it a step further. Just as I never thought I’d be able to get this far with my running, I also thought I’d never get this far with my writing. I have an essay published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, for Heaven’s sakes! That’s a big deal. And I’ve ran not one, but two half marathons. The lesson to be learned is that I can do things that I never thought possible.
Maybe it’s time to step up my game?
So here’s to the future. Here’s to a finished novel (good or bad) and to a full marathon one of these days. It doesn’t have to be the best – it just has to get done. It just has to.
Bucket list, make room. A few more things are about to join the ranks…
“I want to challenge you today to get out of your comfort zone. You have so much incredible potential on the inside. God has put gifts and talents in you that you probably don’t know anything about.”
– Joel Osteen