The Tale Of The Anxious Novelist

“Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.” –Flannery O’Connor

I guess it’s time to talk novels. Why? Because I’ve begun writing one again.

It hit me like a sledgehammer to the face on January 2nd. I know it may seem pretty harsh to describe it that way, but it was incredibly unsettling and powerful. It filled me with anxiety and anger within five minutes of its birth. So much so, that there are parts of the day that I simply don’t remember.

I’ve talked about the development of character names in the past. It normally hinders my creative flow, but within minutes I had the names of the three main characters written down. Some secondary character names followed soon after.

I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go back to it…a life with characters living in my head, scenarios appearing, a new setting to explore. Writing poetry is a completely different experience. It’s often a series of short bursts. You get an idea, you write it down, you revise, and it’s complete. Of course, I know myself a little better than all that. There really is no escape for me. I can try to ignore it, pretend the ideas aren’t there, but living like that usually results in misery of some sort.

Now you’re probably wondering why I’m being so negative, but I promise you I’m just trying to paint a realistic picture. That’s why I started this post with the quote by Flannery O’Connor. If there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s my confidence in knowing that I am a writer. Sometimes I’m a poet, sometimes I’m a novelist, and sometimes (because of my job) I’m a pop culture journalist. Still, always a writer. Most of my days consist of wearing different hats, so I know it’s possible to mix all different types of writing into my schedule.

What helps is the faith I have in this new project. The way the idea came to me was more powerful than anything I’ve ever written. While the whole day was filled with an uncomfortable feeling, my gut told me that I would remember the day ten years down the road, and for a good reason. The strange feelings have since calmed down and formed into something easier to live with. Over the past week, I’ve started to see certain parts of the setting and plot more clearly. I’ve dabbled in writing realistic fiction before, but it is definitely new territory for me. None the less, I’m embracing the “plunge into reality,” and have accepted that there will be moments quite “shocking to the system.”

So, cheers! Here I go again.

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