Posted by: pendrops | March 14, 2007

day in the life of a novelist


No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish
Will come true.


For the past several months, I’ve been telling people I’m working on a novel. I’ve said it with all the gusto, intentionality and hope in the world. And I have been working on a novel. And I am still working on a novel.

But now I realize that was a scary thing to do, telling people. Because what if I stop? What if, some God-forsaken, writing-blocked, rainy Tuesday afternoon I find myself sitting sallow and hunched in front of my iBook and decide I don’t want to work on a stupid novel anymore? What if I find out that I am not, in fact, cut out to be a novelist?

It’s scary letting people, and lots of them, in on your dreams, your ideas, the things you’re trying on as you seek out what you were uniquely made to do. It’s scary because what will they think of you if you quit this, too? Like the last “dream”? When are you ever going to get serious and just do something with your life?

They don’t say that though. You do. And they wouldn’t have to. Their knowing eyes and forced smiles say it all. Or is that you in the mirror, looking back with scorn and doubt and disbelief?

But back to all those people you’ve told: they mean well. You know that. You can’t get mad at them. They only want you to be happy. But to them – and you – it seems you are dead-set on being unhappy, stymied, discontent. But you’re not really.

You’ve just started having more bad days than good. More doubts than peace. And you know what this work, this life, this industry requires and you’re not sure you have what it takes to meet those demands in any number of ways. As things go, you’re not even sure you want to. Because then what?


And then what?

And it hits you like no 2 x 4 or Mack truck ever could: that’s what you’re afraid of, damn it anyway. Success. You’re afraid of success! What if I really do make it after all? What if I really am good enough, smart enough and people like me? What if the dream, the wish my heart makes, really does come true?

So, you’ve figured it out: you want to fail. It’s easier that way. It’s status quo. It’s comfortable. You are where you are and it’s not so bad. Maybe that dream come true stuff won’t feel as good as you thought it would. And it’s easier not knowing; not knowing the disappointment, the ache, the emptiness of arriving at your destination and finding it wanting, lacking.

“It’s not what you think it’s gonna be like,” you hear from all those disengaged winners seated on the heap of ambitions achieved. No sir, no ma’am, thank you very much: failure is the option for me, you decide. And you brainstorm the next “passion” you could move on to, what you’re pretty good at, what you sort of like.

Sky-rise window-washer?

Rocket scientist?


But then something breaks through. That yellow flower in the cracked pavement, so happy in its yellow-ness and optimism. You feel a fool as you reach down to pick it, even more a fool as you reach out and believe. But you remind yourself of the reasons; there’s something bigger here than success and failure and what people think, something greater than dreams, hopes, doubts and belief.

So you take a deep breath, throw your laptop in the back seat, and go to that spot – the one in the library at the far table facing the courtyard and walking trail. And you work on your novel, again. And you think one of your sentences today was kinda good.


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