Like many writers, I teach for a living. I'm not (yet!) one of those few -- around 50 -- writers who can claim to make a living from their writing.
So, mostly I have to write in spurts. My biggest spurt of writing momentum happens in the summer, of course, when I'm in North Carolina. Last summer was no exception. By August, I'd plowed my way to page 150 of a novel set in a small North Carolina town with three quirky women and the even quirkier ways they've chosen to overcome and move beyond the tragedies of their lives. I left North Carolina excited with my progress, and certain I would find a way to complete the second half before the next summer, intending to spend the next summer on intensive revisions.
It's nearly March now, and I'm no further ahead. Why? Because I began to question the validity of the project. Every novel I read seemed better than mine, more provocative, more...significant.
My good friend Jeff Hess spelled it out for me. I'm paraphrasing here -- It's our job as writers to write, he said, and to let others decide the value. Whoa. Something internal shifted, something subterranean cracked. Rays of light burst forth.
He's right, of course. This novel is begging to be written. The characters have become so real I dream of them, hear their stories, feel their pain, empathize with their motives and actions, however self-destructive.
So, maybe I won't finish the last 150 pages by the time I leave Florida for North Carolina in May. At least now I know I will finish. The when is hardly relevant.