You know that when I left full-time work, one of my goals was to write a novel. It’s a dream I’ve had for a long time.
For most of my life, I didn’t think I was worthy of being a novelist, that novelists were special people and I wasn’t one of them.
I don’t believe that anymore. But I am realizing something else.
Working on my novel has been an arduous task for more than a year now. I’ve enjoyed working around it—studying, creating story models, drafting outlines—but I haven’t enjoyed the work of writing the novel.
Yesterday I spoke to a friend and she said, “You don’t have to be good at something to do it, and you don’t have to stick with it because you started it.”
Her words felt like relief.
I wanted to stop.
I wondered if this was resistance, avoidance.
But last night I had a dream and I have learned to pay attention to what my Self tells me in my sleep. (I once quit a job because of a dream.)
In the dream, I went to a theatre with two friends and there was no seat for me. I wandered around, looking for a seat, and I went to different floors (there were several floors) but I couldn’t find any open seats except for ones in the cafeteria area, and I didn’t want one of those because it didn’t have a view of the stage. Those cafeteria chairs weren’t serious about seeing the show.
But then, on another floor, I saw what looked like an open seat. It was at the end of a row and odd because it was more like a recliner. It was blue leather and there were two others like it, next to it, with two shaggy men in plaid shirts seated in them.
I assumed the open seat was already taken because it was such a great seat (it even had a little blue leather pillow!), but the guys said it was free and I could sit there.
So I stood next to the recliner and checked the view of the stage. I couldn’t see it.
“It’s no good,” I said to the guys, “I can’t see the stage.” But they said, “no worries,” and showed me that each of the lounge chairs had a private viewing screen, with a great view of the stage. So that’s where I sat.
Through the process of trying to write a novel, I’ve learned a lot about story structure, and scene structure, and narrative drive. I’ve also learned that what is true about me in other areas of my life is true about my writing:
I am a renovator.
Whether it’s my home or the talent management function of an organization, I’m good at changing what exists to make it better. I’m not good with a blank page.
For now, I have decided to stop working on my novel. If and when I decide to again take up my fiction pen, I will start not with a blank page or even an outline, I will start with an existing novel, probably an older one, and renovate it.
“Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.” — Brenda Ueland
What Brenda Ueland said is true. I’ll still be saying something, through this blog, and my podcast, and an ebook I want to write. But I won’t be speaking through a novel.
At least for now.
Chewing the Cud of Good
Thankful for the fun I had taking photos Tuesday evening. As I stopped and looked, so many things I take for granted looked like miracles.