August 24, 2017

Life Behind the Keyboard: Writing My First Novel

After four months of work, I'm finishing up the final draft of my first novel - 60,000 words - for submission this weekend. And as much as I would like to say that it's been a joy.... hasn't. It's actually been a bit of a rollercoaster.

Writing this novel has been a challenge - not in terms of enthusiasm, but mostly in terms of balancing writing with various other challenges. Taking care of a sick parent, maintaining freelance work while trying to seek further work, and then a tricky emotional situation (which I'm not going to discuss) say "it's not easy" is a dramatic understatement.

And I was "only" writing more of a pulp action-adventure novel. (I'll reveal more when it's released).

One of the challenges I'm facing is the ever-increasing attitude that somehow, I'm not "doing enough". You know, people who say things like, "Looking for a job is a full-time job" and "You need to do more face-to-face networking". Or even "If you're not hustling, you're not an entrepreneur". Seeing the blank look on their faces when I explain that caretaking duties often mean a radical change in how I structure my day or hearing a half-hearted "You-need-to-schedule-crisis-time-as-well-as-personal-time" dismissal....well, I've started seriously pruning my contact list because of those conversations.

It's easy for me to allow my own self-defeating voices to run rampant, to feel like I need to cut myself off from the world...and for a time, I did. I took a well-deserved Facebook break, and being off of Facebook did wonders for my self-esteem. It helped me focus on some inner emotional work (which helped the writing process), and it also made me feel a bit more willing to reach out....which I did. I also joined a writing accountability group to keep me focused. And all of these factors....I'm just pouring into the novel without making a point of it.

(So if there are moments where you get "the feels" when you read my book, you'll know precisely why...although they're not going to correspond exactly with what's going on in my life).

However, my life has become an existential paradox: I want to get out more and interact with the world, but having an uncertain schedule means that when I want to get out, I'm too late to take action. For example,  I was considering breaking my ban on attending Wizard World Chicago (especially because some friends of mine are performing Saturday morning)....but I missed the press pass and volunteer deadline, and quite honestly, I don't have the funds to get a day pass.

No, this isn't cyber begging....but it is a gentle reminder that being a writer and an adult caretaker have a cost. Sometimes, being creative means losing out on some opportunities, making it more imperative that I take the initiative and reach out. My life may have many challenges, but if it means working through those challenges through writing...I'll accept all of them.

But the best thing about writing this novel? You know that quote about writing from (I think) Ernest Hemingway about sitting in front of a typewriter and bleeding?

He wasn't kidding.

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