At this point last year, I wanted to write a book. A novel. The amount of words and time and frustration didn’t matter. I wanted to write a novel, and that was all there was to it. I wrote. And I wrote. I signed up for NaNoWriMo and I won. 50,000 words later, I had a “You Have Successfully Won NaNoWriMo” certificate and 50,000 really shitty words. Half of the novel was forced, half of the novel was boring, and I’m pretty sure one or two scenes had been written in twice.
To say I was disappointed was an understatement. I put on my happy face for my friends and family and I told them of my success. “50,000 words? Wow. That’s awesome,” I would hear. I would smile and say thank you, but in my mind all I could think was that I had failed. There really isn’t anything like that kind of disappointment. You win, but you don’t really win.
So, I took a break from writing and threw myself whole-heartedly into teaching. I spent more time than ever planning because I didn’t want to think about all the time I could have been writing. I also began reading a lot more. I’ve always been an avid reader, but I branched out of my Young Adult (YA) and classics comfort zone and read some adult books. I began following my old writing professors on goodreads and reading what they were reading. I don’t think I realized it, but all year the books I was reading were preparing me for this summer.
A little over a week ago, it hit me. I was ready to write again. Fortunately for me though, I learned that I shouldn’t just start out with a novel. I had to find my voice. So I went in search of a book to help me along on this journey; a book that could give me just a little bit of structure. I walked out of the 90 degree weather and into Barnes and Noble, grabbed my tall soy latte, no foam, and sat in the aisle with books on writing. I pulled about twelve books off the shelf and read the introduction to each one of them. I ranked them in order of helpfulness and type. Slowly, I began putting books back on the shelf (where I found them, of course) until only one remained: One Year to a Writing Life by Susan M. Tiberghien.
Her introduction made me think of writing as it should be, without a real end in sight, writing as discovery, as craft. I felt drawn to this book because I believe that a writing life is “a life that slows down to touch each moment, a life that deepens from an inner source” (xvii). That’s the kind of writing life that I want: the kind that is solely about the writing, not the profit to be gained from the writing. Not the novel at the end but the process that takes you there.
It’s been about a week and I have completed all of the activities in Chapter 1. I’m trying to slow down and savor the moments. I’m journaling every morning when I wake up, and I’m trying to journal at night before falling asleep. I’m writing to write, to explore, to learn. I’m writing for myself, not for those around me.
After several months off, I’m definitely rusty. That’s okay because I’m finding my stride as we speak.