distraction no.99

Nova Ren Suma | On Writing & Writing Distractions

Not an Author Newsletter… something else.

A Book That Must Be Written

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.

6 responses to “A Book That Must Be Written”

  1. Hello. It’s your secret fellow morning writing commenter. I love reading your blog and am sometimes amazed by how similar our writing experiences seem to be. I also wrote novel #1 that had many connections to my real life. Novel #2 was not at all, and I think it ultimately failed because I was trying too hard to write something the publishing industry might like, which resulting in letting go of my own connection to it. I, too, want to get back to something closer to what I put into novel #1. I, too, feel like I can’t quite get there (it’s why I haven’t started a new novel in almost three years, which seems crazy to me) but suspect I am circling toward it, slowly, through short stories.

    Anyway, best of luck. And please keep writing.

  2. I think part of me is really scared to write something that means that much. The ideas are there, just out of reach, but sometimes it seems like if I reach too hard for them they’ll either slip away and be gone forever, or instead of my being able to catch them, they will catch me and I will be trapped by them. I need to find a balance, but I don’t know how.

  3. I can’t imagine having one thing in me that haunted me so long. I have things that I’ve carried around that I haven’t managed to get out into the proper form just yet, but it’s not one thing.

  4. Hi, mystery morning writer. We have so much in common, it’s almost like I left a left a comment for myself while sleeping. Here’s to hoping we both circle closer to the novel that’s next, the right novel, I’m hoping, the one we’re here for in the first place!
    Nell, it seems like you have a novel that must be written. Maybe the scarier it is to face, the more important it is to get down? (?) I wish I had experience with balance and could say something helpful, but I’m so off-balance right now I keep walking into walls. (Um, literally.) I hope you catch your idea but don’t get trapped.
    LK, Yes, definitely. And some things are more desperate than others.
    Yojo, I’m with you. I don’t think I have one big story in me and that’s it. At least I hope it’s not just one thing. Sometimes I feel like I have too much to say and that’s my damage, being overwhelmed and unsure of which direction to go, what to spend my time writing down.

  5. I think the novel I am writing is my book that must be written – at least, for the first time in my life, a profound patience has settled over me and I am totally trusting the process I’ve created. It is a bit about me, but the more I write, the more I realize it is inspired firstly by things I know, but mostly, really isn’t about me.

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