Pressure? I’ll tell you want pressure is. If you are a serious writer it is likely you can identify with what I’m about to write. For context, I am completing the first full draft of what I consider my best novel to date. I have three published to date, 3 more completed, along with a war memoir and a nonfiction book. I love each of them. I am proud of each, but this is different. This novel one flows like water. That didn’t happen by mistake or blind luck. What is the old line? ISIS has to be right just one, law enforcement has to be right every time. Well not to belittle the accomplishments of law enforcement, but that number pales in comparison to a 60 thousand word novel. I have to be right 60 thousand times. In fact, not only does every word have to be right, but it has to flow. It has to engage, create a world that is believable and attainable. Dialogue has to be real but also move the story forward while remaining true to every character. The narrative descriptions can’t merely describe, they must paint. Of all that I have done in my life, including going to war, building a business, working a physical blue collar job for  a decade, it all pales in comparison to the effort necessary to  research, write and polish a complete novel. And having written and published nonfiction, I can tell you that it in no way compares to writing a novel or literature. Novels are exhausting. They are frustrating and tormenting. My wife will attest to  battles I have had with headstrong, independent characters who refuse to do as they are told and instead turn left when I really want them to turn right. In the current novel I was satisfied with my antagonist and protagonist, that is until the antagonist decided he would  join forces with my hero. At the end of it I am physically and soulfully exhausted. I am broken hearted and miss spending time with my characters. They were more than friends, they were family. They are a child now grown and autonomous and sovereign. It is bittersweet that they are now free to go and stand before the world in judgement, in full and baited breathless anticipation of the moment that first anonymous reader comes to the final word, the final punctuation mark. They close the book and react to what they have just completed, not in part, but in the sum total. It is a look every novelist at once exalts and fears. It is the firing squad in which the judgement is rendered fully by that single anonymous reader. I fear the bullet at every word and pray for a reprieve on every paragraph. I am a writer, and death is not the end, not writing is the end.

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