I can’t possibly be expected to write

In February, I decided my novel was dead. In March, my father suddenly died. In July, I gave birth.

Needless to say, I haven’t written much. In fact, given the struggles with my novel, I haven’t written anything in nearly a year.

I tried. In the beginning, I set deadlines. I made pacts. I kept fizzling out. Then, I was pregnant and was too focused on both staying awake and also not vomiting to write. Then dad died and my focus went towards that. Then came the end of pregnancy and most of my attention was swallowed up by how fucking uncomfortable I was.

I’m now in the sleepy land of newborns and toddlers. When I have time–which is to say, during the hours I spend trapped under a baby–I have Netflix.

There’s something good about not writing because you couldn’t possibly be expected to write, rather than not writing even though you have every opportunity to do so but still don’t, even if you weren’t writing when you had the opportunity anyway. It’s freeing to drop the expectation.

I’ve started thinking about my novel again. Sometime around May, in the midst of all the Game of Thrones critiques about exactly why the final season sucked so much, an idea clicked. It was the same idea I had for my unfinished revision, but I was simply thinking about it differently. It all made sense. Everything was going to work.

I still haven’t written. I still think I can’t possibly be expected to write. Not yet.

Right before my dad died, but after I’d given up on my novel, I had a bunch of writing-adjacent opportunities open up. People were getting in touch with me to talk about writing. I had a few paid readings come up. Some work I was particularly proud of came out in print. It felt like a sign. You’re still a writer, even without this novel.

I still want the novel to be a real live novel. I don’t know if when the day comes there is enough space in my tired brain to write it, that I will still want to write this particular novel. Part of me feels that I am now a better writer than this novel warrants, but perhaps not yet a better novelist. Part of me thinks I need to test that theory by like, you know, actually writing.

I still don’t think I can possibly be expected to write.

Not yet.


One Day

One day, I will not be afraid. One day, I’ll be successful. One day, I will write a beautifully crafted novel in three drafts. One day, I’ll be able to justify the time I spend on this endeavour in a way that no one can question, including me. One day, it will not take so much time. One day, I will have a reason for writing that doesn’t sound pretentious or selfish or like something other people would laugh at. One day, I will not feel like a fraud. One day, I will believe I am a writer all the time. One day, I will not be surprised and puzzled when other people think of me as a writer. One day, I will sit at my desk to write and not be tempted to check Facebook first. One day, I won’t have doubts. One day, I’ll have more publication credits than my nemesis. One day, I won’t feel like I am wasting time. One day, I won’t feel like the opportunities have passed me by. One day, this won’t take so long.

One day, this will be easy.

That’s what it all comes down to, really. Why isn’t this easy? And then convincing yourself that if you make the next milestone, you get this one story published, you finish the draft, you get an agent, you win a contest–if you can do that, afterwards, it will be easy. That particular one thing is the only thing stopping you.

But eventually, you get past the one thing, and it’s still not easy. It’s still hard. Not coal mining-hard, but harder than you can admit to most people. You still have no idea what you’re doing or if any of it is working. You still have no idea if this is worthwhile in any concrete sense. You use up huge reserves on this giant act of faith that is just doing it, and then afterwards you wonder why it’s always so daunting to start.

This is your hobby, your dream, your profession, that one thing that satisfies your soul and makes you feel like your you-est self, and you keep shying away from doing it, and then kicking yourself, because it’s not easy. You chastise yourself for complaining that it’s not easy since it’s not coal mining.

But you know it’s not easy. You talk with other writers about how it’s not easy. Even for the ones that make it look easy. But somehow you think it should be different for you. That it’s supposed to be easy for you, and you get worn down because it isn’t easy.

You scorn the people who think it’s easy–they aren’t writers–and yet, you wish it wasn’t so damn hard all the time. Or worse, not all the time. Because those days when it goes well trick you into thinking that maybe on all those other days you did something wrong.

You start thinking, one day, I can quit. I will do this one thing, and I am done. Forever. I would like to do easier things. At least when I clean the floor, at the end of the day I will have a clean floor.

In your heart of hearts, you know you can quit right now. You don’t have to wait for one day. One day can be today. And maybe you do, for a little while.

And then one day you think, I had something. Maybe it could really be something. One day.