I had some friends over on New Year’s Eve, shortly after I started writing things on here again. (I refuse to say “blogging” even if that’s what this is.) They asked me why I had started again, why I stopped in the first place, and if I was going to write anything else.
I shrugged. I don’t know what this is. I don’t know what I’m doing with it. I’m not very good at committing to things, especially personal creative projects.
Then one of them looked at my bookshelf and noticed the debut novel of a friend of mine, The Dilettantes. He turned to me and asked, “When’s your book coming, Warren?”
I shrugged. I have only ever taken a crack at writing a book once, about five or six years ago. I entered the 3-Day Novel Contest and finished a roughly 50 page draft of a half-cooked idea. I sent it to my friend Michael who had already written a book, received his constructive criticism, revised the draft, and haven’t opened it since. I’m not sure why.
At the time, I remember thinking I had a decent idea for a book. Not that I would necessarily know it if I did. It seems like that when you do any kind of writing on a regular basis (especially if you do it as a job), people kind of expect you to eventually write a book of some kind. But it’s not an easy thing to do. At least I don’t think it is, I’ve never really tried it.
I think part of the problem is the writers expect so much of themselves that they think their first book will never be good enough. Actually, forget the first book. The first draft will never be good enough. We don’t stop to realize that maybe, just maybe the first one doesn’t have to be perfect. We do revisions on our writing all the time but somehow expect ourselves to write something on that scale perfectly on the first go. I mean, I’m almost certainly going to come back and find grammatical errors in this after I have posted it. I’m going to write those revisions. So why can’t I write a book?
Partly because I’m not sure what I would write about. I’m not sure I could pick up a five-year-old draft of a novel and continue working on it. I’m not sure it’s even a story I would want to finish. But I guess there’s really only one way to find out.
Maybe it’s all about holding yourself accountable? Let’s try that. I will finish a draft of a novel by the end of 2015. And it will be perfect.