Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Winston Churchill, noted cigar smoker, alcoholic, war hero and wit, once said that “writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling it to the public.” Not a bad quote, but not all encompassing.
I would add that a book is an unshared obsession, a misunderstood addiction, and a friend that deserts you when the going gets rough. And honestly, I don’t think this unkind observation is unearned. Think of a spoiled child, a juvenile delinquent, a son or brother who basically talks back to the person in charge, sneers, gives the finger, and then stays out until three in the morning smoking dope with his friends. Well, at least that’s my book.
I’ve been stuck on page 291 for a couple of weeks. I know what needs to be written and how, who’s involved in the book’s denouement. I know what needs to be said by whom and when—it’s all there waiting to be written, but I’m not doing it. I suppose there’s a fear of finishing, of saying good-bye to an entity I’ve known very well over the past two years. There have been too many good-byes in recent times. There’s panic involved in conjuring up what’s next. I’ve been incredibly fortunate these past few years insomuch as I’ve been able to work from home, make almost no money and live off the income earned a decade ago. Now I’m running out of money and looking for work, and whatever writing I do in the future will be part-time, at best.
And then of course, there’s the fear I’ll come up empty. I have many, many ideas, but most of them will not translate into book-length manuscripts—whether through lack of talent or lack of interest.
So the future right now looks a lot like the eye of a needle. Hm. Maybe a novel on an aging writer who lives by himself and hasn’t sold anything in a while and…