Friday, May 28, 2010

My First Novel

'The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it.' ~Jules Renard, "Diary," February 1895

I remember when I began thinking about writing my first novel SHADES OF WAR, I'd only completed about 50 pages and hadn't taken that big step to make the committment to finish it. The novel was simply a possibility, an idea to play with, a project I'd get to one day. The hesitation came from seeing how daunting the work would be: hours of research about WWI, the Suffrage movement in Canada, and the mining industry in British Columbia. Way too much to contemplate. And when would I find the time? Novels take hours of empty space just to train your mind to relax and go to that place in your consciousness where the writer lives, and then she might not even want to wake up, so you need to trick her, which usually means you must write, write, and then write some more, and that could take hours, weeks, months, and probably years. Who has that kind of time floating around their day, waiting to be used for one's sole pleasure? But something about the pieces of story I had in my head, and those 50 pages I'd put to paper, and the fun I'd had writing them pushed me closer to making that committment to dig in and write.

During this contemplative time, on my way home from a visit to my local library, I looked around and noticed I had arranged my life in such a way that I could find enough hours to make that committment. I suddenly knew it was time. So I decided I would sit down and do the research and write the novel. The instant I made that decision, a thought popped out of my enthusiasm and eliminated any self-doubt I may have been secretly carrying around inside me. Self-doubt is the kiss of death to a writer, so the new thought was a comfort and a nudge. What was the thought? Pretty much what the French writer Jules Renard wrote in his diary (see quotation above): The novel already exists. It's finished in some parallel universe, and all you have to do is link up with it and scribble it down. I hurried home with the knowledge that 'it's done,' and I celebrated in advance as I believed wholeheartedly that I'd make it happen: my novel is already written! Well, sort of. In this universe, I needed 18 months to create it but, thanks to the certainty in that thought, I never doubted I would.

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