I had lunch with another writer yesterday. She, too, writes on the side, in the hours behind and before and in between work. She, too, is trying to find the balance. She told me that she’s been writing her novel for close to thirty years. Really, she admitted, on and off it’s really been that long. The novel is her story, one she just won’t let go of, and I found myself gazing at her across the table as she described what she could of it (for we are secretive, writers, we hold our stories close, as we should) and I admired that she did not give up. Not for thirty years, no matter the stops and starts and doubts and whatever life throws at you, she has not given up. Hers is a book that must be written. As I tentatively described my own—book #1 about myself, and left to rot; book #2 not at all about myself, and maybe it should be left to rot so I can move on to something closer in feeling to book #1—I realized that I haven’t come to face my Book That Must Be Written. I am avoiding it. Yet even while avoiding it, I am stepping closer and closer toward it. My stories skirt around it. My ideas reach for it. Is someone trying to tell me something?
Once you’ve agreed to tackle your Book That Must Be Written I bet life has real meaning. The day has purpose. The hours to be muddled through are not so tough when you know what comes after. It could take thirty years—or more. But you have to believe it’s worth it.