October 30, 2009

Subject: Doubts, despair and stubborn persistence

Short story: A vacation + homework deadline for Hamline + life = too much time away from novel revision

Longer version: I feel like I lost the thread of my story sometime during the month of October. What is this novel about? Is it about anything? Should I keep going? Trust that something will emerge?

I hate the way doubt creeps up and takes over. Sometimes doubt sends me into a spiral, stealing precious time away from writing and paralyzing me. When that happens, I tell myself I have to keep plugging along. What else can I do? I knew that writing required persistence, skill, and discipline. I had no idea that writing required so much faith. Faith that a story will emerge. Faith that time and effort will yield results someday.

Did anyone see the Junot Diaz article in November’s Oprah Magazine? Diaz is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. He describes the process of writing his novel. He wrote every day, eight hours a day, and never got past page 75.

“Want to talk about stubborn? I kept at it for five straight years. Five damn years. Every day failing for five years? I’m a pretty stubborn, pretty hard-hearted character, but those five years of fail did a number on my psyche. On me.”

Every day failing for five years—that kills me. Sometimes I wonder if I can keep going. Can I keep trusting that if I show up every day that eventually, I will finish a book, produce a work that matches the vision in my head? Do I have faith?

Diaz says that his struggle taught him what a writer really is.

“In my view, a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”
I hope he’s right.

1 comment:

  1. Heather, can you e-mail me your new feed info? That way I can fix the Chinook Update blog and get your latest stuff in. Thanks!