Sunday, February 20, 2011

I'm almost there

Today I crossed the 70,000 word mark in my novel; at last, I can see light at the end of the tunnel. Although I expect the finished manuscript to be about 80,000 words in length, I will probably wrap up at about 75,000, knowing I will add scenes in the revision for the sake of continuity and clarity

Because my rough draft is a mess. When I started work on this book, I knew practically nothing about fiction writing; I have literally "cut my teeth" on it. I have changed my mind about so many elements of plot and character since I began that it makes my head spin. Still, I have persevered, although there have been plenty of times I have been tempted to chuck the whole thing and start over. I am so grateful I didn't.

Looking back, I believe that temptation was Resistance.

I just finished a great book, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. This book has been in my to-be-read pile for months. Just a few days, my eldest son, Josh, asked me if I had ever read it, as it was recommended to him by a former teacher, and he found it very inspiring. I said no, not yet, but I will get around to it eventually. He said gosh, Mom, it's just a little book; I finished it in an evening; you could probably knock it out in a couple of hours.

He was right. Once I started, it was hard to stop; I raced through the first half in about an hour. For some reason my reading was interrupted; although I intended to get back to it that evening, I didn't make it until this morning.

I am convinced that was Resistance, too.

"There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't and the secret is this: It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance."

In the first section of the book, Pressfield defines Resistance - anything that distracts us and prevents us from doing what we are meant to do, whether it be a creative activity like writing, a diet or health regimen, education, charitable work, or commitment to a relationship. In the second section, he discusses how to fight Resistance by becoming a Professional, meaning someone who has truly committed to doing the work, showing up every day, no matter what, sticking with the job until it is finished. Finally, he discusses the spiritual ramifications of battling Resistance - invoking the Muse, if you will.

This is powerful stuff.

Towards the end, he explains how Resistance feeds on fear, and that we experience Resistance as fear. And the greatest fear of all is the fear that we will succeed.

"We know that if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us. What will become of us? We will lose our friends and family, who will no longer recognize us. We will wind up alone, in the cold void of starry space, with nothing and no one to hold on to. Of course this is exactly what happens. But here's the trick. We wind up in space, but not alone. Instead we are tapped into an unquenchable, undepletable, inexhaustable source of wisdom, consciousness, companionship. Yeah, we lose friends. But we find friends too, in places we never thought to look. And they're better friends, truer friends. And we're better and truer to them. Do you believe me?" (pp. 143-144)

Oh, yes, Mr. Pressfield, I believe you. It's happening to me already.

And I'm going to stop calling myself an "aspiring novelist." Yes, I aspire to be a published author. But I am writing every day. That makes me a writer. Period.


Nicki Salcedo said...

Needed this one today.

Pam said...

Serendipity. Thanks, Nicki.

The Writers Canvas said...

I LOVE "War of Art" by Steven Pressfield. I may have even done a PFHT blog on him at one point :)

It's one of those books that I can read over and over and get something different out of.

Great job on the 70K! Keep going!


Pam said...

Elaine, you probably don't remember this, but it was you who recommended this book to me - at a GRW meeting, several months ago. I jotted down the title and bought it soon after, but it got lost in my TBR pile, which is absolutely OVERWHELMING. ;-) Part of me wishes I had read it sooner, but I actually think the timing was perfect. And you are right; I was discussing it with my son, and we agreed this is a book that should be read over and over, lest its lessons be forgotten. And now, it's back to work!