Writing a Novel Sucks (Or Does IT?)

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately and part of that is because I just finished reading Amanda Palmer's The Art of Asking. I've taken a good and hard look at myself in the mirror and asked: "Why am I doing this?" Why am I writing? Why don't I just give up and turn the TV on and just watch American Idol like everyone else? Why?

Two reasons:

  1. I'm stubborn
  2. I wanted to share my stories with the world. I love people too much.

Even though writing is hard and I'm not making a lot of money, I just believe that it's part of what I am meant to do in life. I believe that I can share great stories, some of which are the most intimate inner thoughts that get you wrapped up into thinking, "Hey, I've been there. I've felt that way." and to share those most intimate of moments with a reader so that we can smile at each other, eye to eye, and give that knowing nod to each other. An emotional connection is made and the reader walks away, thinking "I've been there. I can relate and empathize with what the people in those books are going through. I've lived that."

That's why I write. It's that simple. I will keep trying, growing, learning, writing better and start all over again. I have a long way to go, but I keep on trying. Why? Because I believe that if I don't then I will not only be failing myself, but you. That might come off sounding pretentious. I definitely don't mean that.

There's a part in Amanda Palmer's book that really captured me. She talks about a moment she had in which she was on a trip in Germany and she saw a living statue (someone who stands like a statue, but is performing to collect money as a job) dressed as a gargoyle. Because she had been a living statue for several years, she stayed around and watched the man interact with a bunch of drunk kids who were toying with him. She then walked up to him, knelt before him and stared deep into his eyes. She put her hand on his face, held his gaze and the two of them had a moment of intimacy. She looked into his eyes and let him know that she saw him. He looked into her eyes and began to cry.

That is what I'm trying to do with my books. Do I always want the people who read my books to cry? No, that's not what I mean. I am hoping that when someone reads my books that it's like they discovered a tiny treasure and there is a connection between us.

That is why I get up at 5 a.m. each morning.

But what's it like to write a novel? Some days it sucks. You get up, try really hard, but the neurons aren't firing right, but you keep on going anyway. Other days are a pure joy. I was in a blue writing funk last month but made a public commitment to redouble my efforts and push on to finish the first draft of my latest novel. I share this with you so that you can see that it's not all skipping through the daisies. Writing is work and it's hard. But it's also not impossible, just takes discipline and perseverance.

I started writing my latest novel (a science fiction one) on June 30th, 2014. From that date up until November 21, I wrote 64,404 words. That comes out to about 3,389 words a week. Not too good. As of today, December 13, I am now at 92,015 words. When I do the math, I can see that I wrote an average of 9,203 words each week since November 22. I'm pretty happy with that. And the good news is that I'm almost finished the first draft. I expect I'll be done in another week or two.

What's changed? I'm keeping track and made a public promise that I would try harder. I am enjoying seeing my daily goal and then beating it. It's that simple. I'm rearranging my priorities and making time to write. None of this is sexy or a super-secret special plan, but comes down to getting my butt in the chair, making stuff up and letting my fingers do the typing.

It's that simple and that hard. But I'm going to keep on doing it. Hopefully, you'll come along for the ride.

Ron Vitale is the author of the Cinderella's Secret Diaries series who hopes that his own children will overcome any obstacles in their way and find their own happily ever after.