There was a time when I was 20, tired and scruffy, and full of ideas and hope and life, living in Florida, longing for the beach, reading dirty used paperbacks...and I had to write a novel. I had to finish it in one year. It was like a fever. It had to be deep, personal, romantic. But more than anything, after one year it had to be finished.
When you're twenty, everything is immediate. Everything is life or death, do or die, finish or be finished. I had no patience for writing instructors in their fifties telling me that a first novel might take three or four or five or six years or the rest of my life.
My imagination couldn't grapple with that...and in the meantime, I was seeing signs of my own mortality. An acquiescence to the time scale of many years that drag on and on seemed a kind of death in itself.
Perhaps that mentality was necessary -- when I was 20. Now, at the age of 36, I know I've survived my 20-year-old mindset. That, or I've already given up and died a death into adulthood. Perhaps they're one and the same.
But I know that the only way I can redeem myself is to understand that "progress" on a writing project comes in many different shapes and colors. Just being a 36-year-old who writes and avoids adult-type things is a kind of progress. Not giving up is a kind of progress. But I've also resigned myself to the fact that projects have their own time-frame.
Some go fast, some go slow.
I finished that novel when I was 20...but it was a mess. It was a raw nerve of emotions and flaws. Irredeemable except that I'm now in the process or redeeming it. That novel, The Sage and the Scarecrow, has now become part of a process -- sixteen years in the making -- where it can be meaningful work.
The result of that reclamation project can be seen in some of the chapters here.
The other parts come from a work-in-progress called Statues in the Cloud. There is no time-frame for it to be done. It will be done when it is done.
But I can't wait for it to be done to start publishing it. That too would be to give my 36-year-old self dominion over a 20-year-old self that was wise beyond his years. Because things do happen in life -- death, taxes, hassles, hustles, plagues, ponzi schemes, and adulthood stuff. Life happens and things can drag on forever without being finished. Life is too short to accept every project will take forever.
There is no work like the work that is always progressing. By reading these works, you'll be helping me progress even further. And you'll be helping my 20-year-old self find life again.
YOU ARE READING
Pure Writerly Moments (The Best of Goodreads Blog Posts, 2008 - 2018)Short Story
Some moments just have to be written. Sometimes, a simple story, essay, or journal entry becomes more. What are these moments? They are pure. They are essential. They are writerly. This is a collection of short blog posts on Goodreads...