I should never have told anyone that I was writing a book. It was early on in the process, back when I was naïve and felt the need to justify my lack of gainful employment. I was only six months out of college but already growing discouraged at my lack of prospects. All of my friends were embarking on the next stage of their lives. Looking at them and their shiny new careers, while I applied to dead-end jobs with Maury playing in the background, sent me into a bit of a panic. I’d always wanted to write a novel but never really had the room in my schedule to just sit there and actually write it. Then, suddenly, I was blessed with nothing but time. I had no more excuses.
At first, everything was very disjointed. I had a character and bits of dialog, but no actual plot to give her. She wandered aimlessly in an ill-defined world, usually speaking only to herself. I would sit and write snatches of scenes, and then erase them the next day. There was a point where nothing came out at all. I finally secured a steady freelance writing job at a lifestyle magazine and website. I get my assignments at the beginning of the week and submit them as they are completed. The pay is decent, and I can telecommute. Other than the fact that it doesn’t come with health insurance, the job is nearly perfect for me. I am a paid writer. It makes me smile just thinking about it.
For a while, I couldn’t juggle everything. My own writing took a backseat, and when I did have the time to write, it felt like work. My writing felt forced, boring, and unnatural. My protagonist and the narrative voice I was so meticulously (one could say to my own detriment) crafting went completely silent. People would ask how the book was coming and I wouldn’t know what to say, so I would change the subject. Instead, I would talk about my job, how great it felt to be paid for my words and thoughts.
Fortunately, things have gotten better, although it is progressing a little slower than I’d like. I got the hang of my work requirements and am much more confident in my writing skills. I do not have to spend whole days on articles anymore, which cleared the way for me to carve out some daily time to change gears and work on my own writing. The book is still in pieces, floating around on my hard drive. But I can see the shape and scope of it now. It is no longer a jigsaw puzzle with mostly blank pieces. I know the ways everything will fit together and how I want it all to sound. I am more determined than ever to pull it all together and get it published one day. I’d like to see my name on a hardcover dust jacket on the shelf of my library. I think that would be the highlight of my life, honestly.
Now, when people ask me how that novel is coming, I tell them, “It’s coming along just fine.”