I had no idea it was so hard to write a novel. Not a clue. I knew it wasn’t easy. That it was not a project most people could undertake and finish with moderately successful results. But I thought I could do so. And maybe I am. I don’t know yet.
What I expected was a process of building momentum. A trickle that became a flood. I would start out slow and unsure, but as time wore on I would understand my characters and the narrative that propelled them. It would be slow going at first but after a certain point I would be turning out the pages more and more quickly. By the time I was close to reaching the end, I would be on fire, burning through pages.
The reality couldn’t be more different. I exist in a world of random fits and starts. I will be in a period of utter desolation. I know where to go but seem unable to get there, unable, even, to force my way through the block. This will go on for some time, until one day I will sit down, expecting frustration, and the flood will recede, the road will be clear, and I’ll make great progress. I will believe that, finally, I have hit my stride. This is how it’s going to be, right through to the end. Except then the flood will come back. The waters will rise to my chest and progress will slow to the pace of a man walking through water, toes skimming the sand under his feet as the current tries to bear him away.
I wonder: is this experience specific to this book? Is it because I have written it so completely out of order, changed it so many times only to change it back? Does the fact that parts of the story, and the narrator, resemble parts of me so closely that the resulting anxiety serves to stifle? Do I allow too many distractions: books and internet and family? Will the next project go more smoothly, or is this just how I work?
To know. What I would give to know.
To be done.
I would give more to be done than to know.