By Pat Remick
There are times when I wish I’d never told anyone that I’m working on a novel. Those days inevitably come when someone says “How’s the writing coming?” or “Oh, I thought you’d already finished that book.”
Then there's the woman who pays a weekly visit to my office and asks "How's our novel coming?" On the few occasions when I've explained where I am in the process, her eyes glazed over. So now I just say, "fine" and once again kick myself for revealing a Work in Progress exists -- then kick myself harder for not finishing it yet.
I realize people are just being nice, showing an interest. But I also wonder if they think writing fiction is easy. Sometimes they say things like “I’m going to write a book someday” or “I thought I'd write a novel this summer.” Well, good for them. And good luck.
They'll soon learn what we know: writing is really, really hard. There's a saying on my desk that begins with “Writing is easy...” but the next part is: “All you do is stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” Some days that’s pretty close to the truth.
Sure, there are times when the words flow onto the paper like melted chocolate. And yes, there are instances when the characters and plots reveal themselves on the page as if they have come from somewhere outside our imaginations Those are the magical days, to be sure.
To have more of those magical days, we need to be available, butt in chair (BIC) in front of the computer. I don't mean to whine but, as you know, real life can interfere with writing. Do I need to explain to people asking about my book that obligations like showing up at my job or sweeping the floor more than once a month reduces the amount of time available to work on a novel?
I believe the ability to write is a gift. However, having so many stories and characters inside my head -- all begging to get out--can feel like a curse. It's the same affliction that prompted me to start writing a novel and pushes me to wake up early to write before work every day. I never mention this sickness to the people who ask about my book.
But when I DO finally finish my novel, will I be cured?