"Don't forget - no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell." - Charles de Lint
I want to write a book. When you hear me whine about wanting to be a writer and then roll your eyes because I'm clearly writing words and posting them in this blog, it's not what I mean. I mean that I want to write an honest-to-God BOOK, with pages and a cover and everything. In the pinnacle of my dreams, this book would be published by someone other than myself, and I could walk into a bookstore and see shiny new copies sitting on a shelf that people could buy and take home and read. So when I bemoan my failures as a writer, it's mostly because I not only haven't written a book, but because I can't seem to get an idea to stick long enough to actually do it.
It's NaNoWriMo right now. Where flocks of ambitious authorly types sit down and crank out a novel in thirty days. Some of them even manage to get their works published; others do it simply for the hell of it. I signed up last year and made it about four days. When I couldn't get going with a new idea, I even resorted to cheating - I was going to work on something I'd already started, if it meant I had something I could add words to and plod forward. Not even that worked, and so I gave up after about a week. I maybe wrote a thousand words, total. A far cry from the 1000+ words a day that you need to write to stay on track.
The failure stung, though it was mitigated by the fact that I at least managed to blog every day. So last November wasn't a total wash, but it left me a bit resentful toward any stabs at fiction I'd ever attempted in my entire life. A bit dramatic, but that's how my brain works.
I'm not doing NaNoWriMo this year, I'm not even signing up, I know better. I won't do it. I'm going to focus on getting my blog back on track first, so I guess that's the priority. But that doesn't lessen my innate desire to write a book. Yeah, yeah, everyone wants to write a book, everyone's a writer, everyone wants to be a writer - all the familiar insecurities we all have. Maybe if we didn't surround ourselves with fellow writers, we'd have less of a problem with this particular anxiety.
No matter. Greener grass, water your own, stop comparing yourself to others, etc. (My blogging has gotten so disorganized that I KNOW I wrote something about this comparison paradox not long ago, but I can't find it and it will probably be weeks before I do and post it, which means everything is out of order and my OCD senses are getting all tingly.) The solution is simple: just write something, you idiot.
I want to write fiction, it's always been my love... but I also want to do a book of essays, because for some reason, I have really started to love that genre. I don't claim to have the panache to be able to write the type of humorous yet profound essays that I love, but maybe I could mash the better parts of this blog into something coherent and readable. That would be a fun project, I think. I doubt it would sell, but I could always do an ebook or something and have the satisfaction of completion. It doesn't matter, I really shouldn't even be concerned about selling a book, because I HAVE NO BOOK TO SELL. The horse is running into an improperly placed cart, I think.
I've been trying to read more fiction lately to get my mind back into the right place. I have this odd dilemma of starting a book and then getting distracted by a SHINY NEW BOOK even though I wasn't done (or even half done) with the old book. I've got at least a dozen half-started books scattered around my bed. It's awful. I need to force myself to finish and hide from bookstores and Amazon until I make some progress.
But back to the quote at the beginning of this post... one of my biggest hold-ups is thus: what could I possibly have to say that hasn't been said before? Especially if I wanted to go the nonfiction route. I've had a pretty easy life, for the most part, and there's been very little that's exceptionally interesting about it. I mean, I like it well enough, but it's hardly a basis for profound esssays of a memoirish quality.
On our recent trip to Portland (which will undoubtedly provide me with an absurd amount of content over the next month, for which I only half-apologize), we made the necessary stop to Powell's Books. If you've never been or never heard of it, it's basically an oasis of awesome. It's four stories high and spans an entire city block. It's pure glory. New books, used books, out of print books, other oddities (I found a 1984 Pantone swatch book and a really old out of print book series that my mom used to read - she was stunned and delighted. Stunlighted.) - all of it under one roof (well, mostly. They had a second building and two airport stores too, but that's not the point.)
I spent the first twenty minutes just wandering around in awe before I landed in the Blue Room (where all the literary fiction lives). Given everything I've mentioned above about wanting a book of my very own, these endless stacks triggered two main reactions:
1. There are so many books, what makes me think that I have anything new to say? Everything's been done, and way better than I could possibly do it.Two completely opposite viewpoints that fought it out the entire time and have continued to fight it ever since. A while ago I posted a quote from Richard Rhodes, which was basically my fears embodied and then dismissed. What right do I have to write, and who cares what I say? I have every right, and what I have to say is different than what you have to say, or what she has to say, or what he has to say, or what they have to say. We each have a different voice and a different perspective. We each have different things to say. And each little different bit adds to our collective story, our collective knowledge.
2. There are so many books, there's probably room for one more. For mine.
I see things from my own eyes, from my own viewpoint, which may or may not be ridiculous and naive, but perhaps profound on certain things. There's no way of knowing which is which until I sit down and just DO IT ALREADY.
I'm not starting anything right now. I have to get my head in order first and figure out which words need to be said first and what I even want to say, but that is my goal for the next year or so, my new #1 goal before I turn 30 (I even revised my List). I'm going to make myself into a real writer, dammit, so I can stop bitching about how I'm not doing it. In the evenings, on the weekends, whenever I find time, I'm going to make myself finish a damn project. Because I may not be the smartest person in the world or the most eloquent or the funniest or even the most interesting, but I still have a unique viewpoint, and it's time I do something with it. Otherwise, I'm going to have to just shut up about it, because I'm tired of making excuses for myself. The time for doing, is now.