My friend recently did something very brave. Something most of us obsess about, but never do. My friend quit his job to devote himself full-time to writing his first novel. To this friend, I would like to say BRAVO!
And then I will shamelessly quote the e-mail he sent me yesterday:
I’m a little intimidated to get started now because I don’t have any excuses not to and it’s a big void to be filled. Do you have any words of wisdom or morsels of knowledge to help nudge me off the diving board?
In response, I sent him an e-mail full of brilliant advice because, having written a whole novel, I am now an expert. I never have trouble sitting down to create masterpieces. Words come to me like little birds to Snow White.
I sent the latest revision of THE HERO to my agent Michelle on Friday, and on Saturday I returned to the work-in-progress.
Or, I tried to.
The little birds circled above me but wouldn’t land. Then they pooped on my head.
To continue this train of mixed metaphors, my new work-in-progress is a void to fill, and I’m intimidated—especially since THE HERO taught me just how much effort goes into writing a novel. I see the years spanning ahead of me. The rewrites. The killed characters. The slaughtered darlings. I see a battlefield.
I was going to share the long pep talk I sent to my friend. It’s full of life-changing advice like “try choosing a certain time and place for your writing” and “start with small goals and work your way up to big ones.” I sent him E.L. Doctorow’s wonderful quote that writing “is like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
That’s all very sensible advice, but it all really comes down to the same thing. You can’t make that car trip if you stay in the driveway. You’ll never win a battle if you don’t fight. And when you’re trembling on that diving board, the only real advice anyone can give you is: “JUMP!”