Here’s the situation: I’m writing a book about working for a living, except unlike the offices I usually write about, this story is set in 1947 on a railroad in the mountains. I have a hero who’s going to have to learn a thing or two, the woman he’s focused on, the woman he should be focused on, allies, villains, mentors, bystanders, eccentrics, philosophers, misguided twits, and, of course, trains.
But I’m stalled.
I have seven chapters, about 28,000 words. I have 22,000 words in my notes, including three obituaries of my characters (one of which is one of the best things I’ve ever written), and a fake bibliography (it was fun). I’ve written three short stories based on this book. I even have an alternative chapter 1 where I try a different point of view. And then there are all the maps, charts, photos, and postcards I’ve collected for — inspiration?
As you can see, I’m doing everything except writing my novel. I think there are three reasons for this:
- I don’t know how to do this. I’ve never written a novel before.
- The thought that even if I finish, I will never publish this book anywhere.
As for that third point, I have some evidence. Yesterday one of my stories was bounced from Glimmer Train. (More about this magazine in another post.) That is my 175th rejection in this century.
I’ve never received a single rejection for a novel, because I’ve never written one. I should write one. Public accountability will help. Thanks for reading along.
The two deadly sins: writing and eating
Some guys turn to alcohol when they’re stressed. Some turn to Coldplay. I eat. This morning before we went hiking in the Columbia Gorge I stepped on the scale and the scale glared at me and said 170.8. That might seem like nothing much for a man who is 6’7″, but I’m 5’7″. I was in better shape than this not too long ago. So here is how I’m spending the next 41 days: making things up and not eating.
Clarion ends on August 3. My overarching goal is to still be alive on that sweet Saturday.
See you tomorrow.