I’ve started a new novel. I actually started another novel about three months ago and quit half-way through. It’s been years since I quit writing a novel mid-way, but I had no choice. There was no more story. So instead of freaking out I went on a few long walks and thought about what was going on. I think I figured it out.
There’s this book I’ve wanted to write for a long time, one I’ve taken notes on and had dreams about in the night. One I’ve been afraid of. So I steered clear of it and talked myself out of writing it and tried to do something easier, something more obvious, something I had more control over. But finally, it dawned on me that it’s really hard to write what you don’t love because you are trying to be safe. Writing a novel takes months, years, many many hours of labor at the computer, in a notebook – scrawling words, submitting yourself to criticism, listening to people tell you where it’s bad, where it’s good, what’s wrong, what’s right with it. If you’re going to lay yourself out there – you might as well do it over something you believe in.
But that’s the tricky part. If you write what you absolutely love and it still gets rejected, maybe it’s the tell-tale sign that you’re not supposed to be a writer. So, why not hang out in the land of security and write stories that make you feel safe?
Because it won’t feed your soul, that’s why.
And this is where you have to decide what it is you’re trying to accomplish when you write your books. What it is you’re doing with your gift with words. Telling stories is one of the oldest traditions and it’s one of the most widely used traditions. People write stories from all over the world. Why have I joined them? What is it that makes me want to write?
After ten years and dozens of rejections, heaps of criticism, some praise, and quite a lot of indifference, I’m still writing. I get up in the morning and find that when I put my 1,000 words to the page I like this world more. I see this world more clearly. But I have to decide: do I write for me, or because I’m trying to prove something, maybe because I want people to like me?
Truth is, I discover areas and secrets about myself when I’m writing a story and it’s fascinating. When I listen to the story and get out of the way and let it live, let it breathe – it comes to life and I find out things I didn’t know I knew and discover truths I didn’t know I believed. That’s one of my main reasons for writing. But in order to get to the deep things, in order to move past the obvious and into the intuitive, I have to trust and I have to risk. I have to go where I haven’t gone before.
In order to go where I haven’t gone before, in order to risk and let go of my fear — I have to make a decision. Will I let fear overcome me, or will I overcome fear with life?
Today, I’m going to overcome fear with life. I’m going to trust that the story brewing inside me is important and that it will one day serve a purpose. And I’m going to get out of the way and yield and let it breathe and live and become real.
Now faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you cannot see … It takes faith to be creative.
I’ll keep you posted.