How can I put into perspective how difficult I find the practice of writing a novel? Words with purpose. Sentences that express some truth. Scenes that join the dots.
I don’t know?
At times, I feel my attempts at writing a novel may be the hardest thing I’ll ever do. Harder than maintaining the two most important relationships of my life (my wife and my son)? Harder than continually challenging myself and developing my career in the hospitality industry? Harder than simply being a person on this planet at this moment in time?
Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, I think, so hard, too hard, the skills required to write a novel that holds together from beginning, through the muddle to the end.
Other times, I’m harsh with myself – ‘First world problems, man.’ I have a good job. I have a loving family. I have a roof over my head and food in the pantry. I am living in the most abundant era ever. I lack for nothing.
And so, yeah, I could give up writing. Why should I struggle so much? I could choose not to face the keyboard and blank page-on-screen every morning. Who needs that 5.15am alarm?
Seriously, 5.15am. It’s dark when I get up and it’s still dark when I finish writing at 6.15am. There’s no audience. There’s no pat on the back. There’s no-one there to say, ‘Good job, dude. Love your work!’
There’s just me, my practice and this tornado inside of me that demands I continue to ‘Show Up’.
So, giving up, choosing not to write is an option. Of course it is.
But that won’t stop the feeling inside that needs an outlet for the ideas that are always swirling around my head. They won’t go away. They’ve flowed through me like tributaries trickling from the
mountaintop down into the valley where the river masses and swells my whole life.
As a writer I’m trying to navigate these waterways. Trying to craft my voice, my style, my unique and sincere self through the stories I want to tell.
And this is hard for me. Almost every day, in some way, I struggle with how best to communicate my literary ideas through story. Often, I feel like I’m failing. Sometimes, I have some positive self-talk: ‘Keep turning up, Ken. Keeping working the problem through showing your dedication to your characters, your story and your practice.’
Other times, most times, I’m not so gentle and generous. One day I may finish a novel that ends up somewhere near where I want it to. I really hope for the day. And as best I can, I will fight my corner. I will continue to show up, because while my confidence waxes and wanes, the urge to tell stories and write never does.