Whatever It Takes

Can you grow tired of working on your own novel? I’m not saying that’s happening to me. I promise. But I see how it could if I let it. But I’m not going to let it happen. I swear.

Some days ago, I searched that very topic on the Internet because curiosity had gotten the better of me. I ran across a couple of amusing posts:

The first one: “I worked over the first novel for years and eventually threw it out. Second novel was a (relative) breeze and I sold it. Third novel is like giving birth to King Kong.”

“Years” for a first novel doesn’t sound unrealistic and I can see how the second would follow along at a (relative) breeze. However, the King Kong event sounds very uncomfortable.

The second post: “So I got tired of re-working my novel and did something else. I shaved off all of my body hair.”

Sure, there have been lapses, down moments and unenthusiastic paragraphs that get finished with a sigh and then deleted. It happens. But if you’re thinking I’m standing here all lathered up with razor in hand, you’re wrong.

When John Steinbeck wrote Grapes of Wrath, he kept a journal. That journal eventually became Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters. The book is a personal diary of letters Steinbeck wrote to his close friend and editor, Pascal Covici, from the beginning to the completion of the writing of East of Eden.

As the Publisher’s Note says: “The letter was primarily a method of warming up, flexing the author’s muscles both physical and mental … the letters were also full of serious thinking about his novel, his longest and most ambitious; about novel-writing in general; and about some of Steinbeck’s deepest convictions.”

In short, Steinbeck showed us his life: clever and dull, brave and cowardly, beautiful and ugly. Does that feel familiar? It definitely does to me.

I’m sure Steinbeck had a few days when he was tired of working on East of Eden. He was only human. Writing those letters was how he got his motor running.

Whatever it takes: meditation, a walk around the block, watching an old movie or writing a letter (e-mail?) to a close friend. Whatever it takes.

Thanks for reading.

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One Response to “Whatever It Takes”

  1. Greg Randle Says:

    Every day you don’t write … the bastards win. – George Ayres

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