I met a man recently at my writer’s group who said that he’d been working on a novel for almost 40 years. I sat there like “woah”. Not just because like “woah” that’s a long time to be working on a creative project or “woah” that’s dedicated, but more like “woah”, is this a vision of the future? I immediately imagined myself grey, somewhat retired and after years and years of chewing off my better half’s ears about plot holes I excitedly met up with a bunch of young writers in a pub who hadn’t heard about my plot holes yet and I said to them – “I’ve been working on this time travel story for about 40 years”. They all look at me like “woah”.
The idea came to me about 5 years ago in a flash bulb moment of pure genius, you know, those ones where you think – “yes, this is it, this is the thing that’s going to make me the next Stephanie Meyer/JK Rowling/Cassandra Clare/Francine Pascal!” It was divine, it was my life purpose presented to me on a silver platter and I ran with it… for about a couple of days.
The years slipped through my fingers and work, relationships and a busy social life consumed me. I still had blips of inspiration while listening to 80’s music or taking long showers, some revelation about plot or character would come to me and I’d open Scrivener up in a panic to get it all down. This was how I lived for years. These neglected characters trying to grab my attention and I waved them off like a busy single mother – “I’ll look at it later darling.”
Recently though, I’ve opened my ears to their pleas and my heart to my writing and I’m now working my way through the hot mess of a third draft. It’s hard. It’s heavy going. It’s hard giving up so much time to do something you love so much because what if when it’s finished it’s totally crap? What if no one ever reads it? What if I self publish and everyone hates it, or worse, what if I hate it? What if, what if, what if??
What if I become that grey woman with a 40 year old unfinished manuscript?
What if I just finish it?