Slow Motion

As you may know, I have slowly been writing. Slowly, as if I have all the time in the world. What I would change about myself—one thing of many—is my obsession with time passing and how much older I am getting. I truly wish I did not care. Truth is, I do care. It pains me to see how slowly I am moving forward, to watch each day pass without much achieved and know it is one day less out of my life. And yet what do I think will happen to me, if I were to start living this supposed other life I think I’m waiting for? I have no idea.

What I am slowly writing is a novel. It is official. E asked what I worked on yesterday morning when I got up early before work. And I said, naturally, as if it is truly happening, “My novel.”

I said it out loud. There is no denying it now.

Because it is truly happening. I was so stung by not-so-recent disappointments that I pretty much gave up without admitting it out loud. I threw myself into ghostwriting and feeling sorry for myself and I might take it back if I could, but I cannot.

I’m just writing this because I want to. E said he can’t wait to read it. I said I am writing it for me, and no one may like it but me, and he met my eyes and said he will like it, he knows he will. And the support, without seeing a word, makes me want to write it all the more.

But this is no quick fix. We all know that writing a novel can take years.

Yes, the going is slow. There’s a pleasure in that, though. The process of getting these words down, just as I loved the darkroom aspect of the photography process and once darkrooms became obsolete I didn’t want to take so many pictures.

Slowly I am writing this.

So slowly, I will put down a word and think hard on it for some moments. Then I will go backward through to the other words that came before it, until I am focused on what I did yesterday instead of what I should be doing today.

There should be no “should” involved here.

People who give advice about writing novels—those people who write books about how to write a book, the ones who have books published that you’ve heard of and the ones who do not—often say that it is most important—imperative!—to write forward to the end and just not look back. You can always edit later. So I am trying to move forward. But part of writing this novel (call it “new”; call it “different”; call it by the same title it had before) is taking previous passages and writing around them and/or reimagining them and/or selecting a big chunk and hitting delete. So I do need to read over some pieces of writing as I write.

I’m not sure how to go about this except slowly. That’s the pace that feels right.

I may butt up against my over-anxious self, but maybe this process will make me grow not just as a writer but as a person. Patience is a what? Oh, right: a virtue.

I’m trying—anxiously, impatiently—to remember that.

7 comments

  1. Ugh. I feel your frustration with the slowness even though you know it’s what’s best. When I want to do something, I like to see results ASAP, and that’s just not the way a novel works. Damn it. Best of luck, and thanks for sticking by me in my time of Internet troubles 🙂

  2. I just started reading Floyd Skloot’s memoir about his brain damage. He said that one of the after effects of writing was that he wrote “very slow”–but he did finish many books that way!

    Big thumbs up to you, nova.

  3. Good for you, Nova. Slow is as beautiful as small. Do you know Issa’s famous hokku?

    O snail
    Climb Mount Fuji,
    But slowly, slowly!

  4. I’m the slowest of the slow, so I can relate. And really, it doesn’t matter how fast you write anyway…Speed has nothing to do with quality or results! It sounds, in fact, like you are in the right place for writing this…I am happy for you!

  5. Rock on, Nova. If it feels right, it’s right. I was so happy for you reading this post. Take it each word at a time and enjoy the process like you deserve to!!

  6. Now I’m trying to bear in mind the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. If you write, say, 200 words in a day, but do this consistently over a period of many days, you will eventually have a novel. But if you write in fast bursts of thousands of words, more than likely, you’ll end up with a rushed draft that will take much longer to unpick and resew. I’ve heard the advice about “don’t edit, keep on writing” but I find that if I do that, I have to scrap much more than if I’d corrected problems as I went. Maybe the secret is, for a writer, to find a pace that works for them personally. Like you, for me that pace is slow!

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