I’M PLANNING TO WRITE A NOVEL SOME DAY…
Say many people. Most of them don’t.
I’M NOT DISCOURAGING ANYONE! But I haven’t cloned myself even once: when people expressed interest and I offered to point them in the right direction, none followed up.
My oldest is writing fiction – I get an occasional peek. That’s all.
Why? Because it’s a lot harder to do than most people realize. Lots of words, and they need to be in some kind of a comprehensible order.
It’s on the order of thinking you might be able to build a car because you’ve driven lots of different models. Or even because you’re actually a pretty good mechanic.
Different set of skills, and the finished product DOES NOT SHOW where the tools were applied.
I’ve produced two completed novels in two different series
but it is not likely that the first one (a mystery written before the turn of the century) will ever get the attention it needs to be turned into a finished product, given that I’ve learned a few things this century. Maybe, maybe not. The more I learn, the more I realize it need a lot of work. Great characters, I thought, and a good end and premise, but we’ll let it live peacefully for now. In the trunk.
The first one in the Pride’s Children trilogy took me 15 years, many of which were spent learning such things as how to write a full-length play (great for dialogue).
I’ve aged, and have not gotten well
Thirty years of ME/CFS is a long time, and during that time I’ve had at least the usual vicissitudes of aging, and probably even more than average because the energy to exercise, for example, isn’t there – thirty years of no real exercise (because we can’t go aerobic – our cells don’t produce energy fast enough) leaves you deconditioned, even if you’re diligent at doing what you can (bike/trike rides, pool exercises).
That’s one of the reasons it takes me so long to write: the energy has to come from somewhere, I’m chronically ultra-short of energy, and other things in Life have to be done, too.
I’ve pared away and given up almost everything. The pandemic is forcing me to relinquish even more: at the same time it is giving me a bit more time, it is increasing the stress – never helpful.
Most people don’t think of writing as requiring energy
They’re more likely to think it needs time, because how hard can something be that you do sitting down?
They know it gets you tired – mentally tired – and that you need to keep your body in at least reasonable shape to support your brain’s work.
But beyond the obvious, most don’t realize that writing fiction is exhausting under the best circumstances. Physically exhausting.
I can’t, apparently, do two energy-sucking things in the same day
I can count as rarities the days when I do something physical first (like a trike ride, or even a trip to the front desk on Maggie a couple of times to get a package in the mail in the right sized container with the correct postage).
I used to get around this problem by doing my writing first, and then going for a ride in the late afternoon, or for a swim AFTER writing (since I never get anything done in the evening anyway).
But there’s no pool Yolo County is allowing us to use, and the days are now so hot (though not humid, bless California!) that I can’t afford to go out after a certain time. This is because California starts off cool, and then heats from the sun straight through the day. Without humidity most nights cool off, but on a day over 90° like today, if I don’t get out by noon it’s already too hot for me to be out.
My physical body is a real limitation
to my current writing. I just don’t get the hours of functioning usable brain that I need, and days will go by when no writing can get done.
I’m doing – and will continue to do – the best that I can.
That’s a given. Non-negotiable.
But I’m wondering exactly how low I can push ‘taking care of body’ vs. ‘using body to support brain.’
So the rest of you?
Maybe you should get started on that novel, and not depend on retirement, or ‘when you have more time,’ because I’m here to tell you the physical part of writing keeps getting harder every year.
And there’s NO guarantee something won’t come along and knock you clean off your pins (must look up that phrase), and you won’t be able to do it at all.
As for me
I keep trying to cheat, and figure out ways to NOT do things, so they won’t absorb the little energy I have.
My long-suffering husband keeps not complaining. He gets points.
The mess will have to wait some more.
I don’t know how long it will take – I hope days, rather than weeks or months – to get the next chapter through the last little bits (epigraphs and chapter title and a final round of AutoCrit). I only know that I keep inching forward, and I’m still excited about the story (this chapter was a doozy), and I hope I’m still around to finish this job (there’s a virus out there that eats older people and people with co-morbidities), because I still haven’t found anything I love as much as this little obsession of mine.
Thought I was improving a bit, but not really. Shrug. It won’t stop me, but it sure slows me down.
Oh. And I’m grateful. It could be a lot worse.
Stay well. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Etc.