I love this question. It pierces the heart of fear. It makes it irrelevant, focussing on possibility. When I first came across this question a few years back (in an excellent book by Lindsay Agness, on changing your life with NLP, which I bought because I once worked with her and she’s lovely), I wrote a list. On it was “write a novel”.
At that time I’d written a book, Hurt, but that seemed more like something I just had to do, whereas writing a novel was pure indulgence. Clearly my subconscious has been chipping away at my fear, because I’ve decided that this year I am going to write my novel. Or rather, begin to. I’ve thought about writing the book, Hurt, and where I stood in 2007 when I decided that I would write it. I had nothing but an idea, and it took three years to bring it to fruition. It wasn’t daunting to me then, so why is a novel different? In writing Hurt, I had to persuade the Management Committee at Mosac to trust me with their clients, so in some ways it started with bigger hurdles, since I had to devise a proposition first, and then find clients of Mosac’s that would be prepared to be interviewed. That whole process took three years, and I didn’t start out worrying about filling 80,000 words (or however many it was in the end), so why is writing a novel any different?
It’s taken me a while to work through that it isn’t different. There is a process, and plenty of writers have written about the process. Reading those, I’ve decided, have just put off my process. Writers write. Procrastinators read about writing, and I’ve done enough procrastinating.
Everything seems to have come together in the idea that I have, that seed sown on my travels last year in Lanzarote: the MOOC, the fascination with the past, the fascination with landscape, the fascination with people. I believe that I have the ingredients to write a story that I am truly inspired by, and this one will go on in its 80,000 words, beginning with the first words, those first wordy steps.
I am a novice novelist; I wish I were an acclaimed one, but I am where I am. If I don’t dare to do something about it, I will never have the opportunity to be anything different.
“If you do what you always do, you get what you always got”