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A Toe in the Water?

When I wrote a month or so ago about “not writing a book,” I got  such good advice. The most useful, I think, was the notion that if one does not have a passionate and burning desire to write a book, if one is not literallypossessed by an idea, it isn’t the right time. I’m sure there are exceptions if one churns out something formulaic, or has a contract to write the next book in an existing series, but neither of those scenarios fits my fledgling novelist status. I am starting fresh, my regrettably unpainted toenail inching towards the shark-infested waters.

So this morning, I had an idea. I knew it was a good one because I felt that whoosh of intense feeling, a heedless rush like a sip of brandy doing its fine work as I fought to maintain control and make order in my head. The fact that I couldn’t stop it, and that it lit me up without my consent and refused to be categorized, organized or otherwise domesticated was a sign that I was in the presence of a power outside my prim, intellectual garden. This was passion. This was it. (I think).

My first impulse was to blog about the general topic of the book. Just a sample, mind you, not the whole thing. I wanted approval, some kind of green light, thumbs-up, attention, encouragement and validation. The need for a pat on the head and a word of praise has always been my drug of choice. I thought maybe I would just write a little post, just to see if people liked it. I started to write, I was in the proverbial groove, and a voice (Moses? God? Barry White?) said “don’t spill it!” Seriously. I was just sitting at my desk typing and I heard a voice warning me that if I didn’t hold my vision close and let it grow, I would surely be letting it die of exposure. I had to protect my vision from my neurosis, which is harder work than a sane person might think.

Then there was this whole other issue about the autobiographical nature of my idea. Without a doubt, real live people would see themselves in my writing, or, worse yet, think that they did. Would I have to change everything to the point where it was no longer really the story I wanted to tell? Would I have to contact all living players and let them know my plans? Could I become ruthless and uninhibited, writing what I needed to write despite the ghost chorus in my head wailing “but you made it look like I…?” I have nothing awful to say about anybody, honestly, but I know that any version of life coming from my own experience will necessarily conflict with the memories and perceptions of other people.

I know I should just write the damned thing. Five hundred pages a day, an hour a day, some kind of reasonable, disciplined schedule for cranking it out without diluting it by writing blog posts or gutting it by trying to avoid hurt feelings. I am looking at my toe nervously, wondering if just a quick coat of blue sparkly polish would hasten the movement of sharks towards my sheltered area of the shore.

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About imagineannie

I am a 40-something Midwestern wife, mother and lawyer with a passion for cooking, reading about food, eating food...you get the picture.

3 responses »

  1. DO IT !!! I have had that same feeling about writing and business ideas as well….the writing thing left me pretty quickly….but he business idea will not go away…I am going to have to act on it soon jsut to see if thee is any interest..the fact that it keeps coming back over and over in more and more detail is like the universe is trying to send me message ….and I need to reply..so do you!

    Reply
  2. Do it! My motto has always been it’s better apologize than ask permission (just ask my mom!).
    No one has to see what you’ve written until it’s published, so you’ll have plenty of time to figure out how to handle any concerns about family and friends’ reactions.

    Reply
  3. DO IT! And be ruthless in your first draft — hold nothing back. (I love that quote that it’s better to apologize than to ask permission — though I doubt that my kids, about whom I’ve often written, would agree) It’s always easier to take things out in revision than to pretty it up in a first draft. More powerful that way, too.

    I’ve been sneaking peeks at your blog for a year now and I love your voice, and I totally believe that whatever you write will be well worth reading. But don’t tell us. Don’t blog about it or blab about it. Just write it down — no holds barred, at least the first time around.

    Reply

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