I was a Junior in High School the first time somebody ever called me a writer. The reason that memory has always stood out for me is not because it was momentous at being called a “writer”, because I still figured they were tweed-wearing hermits who didn’t do it for the money.
Nup, the reason I remember it was because it was the first writing assignment that I ever said, “Aw, what the hell” towards, and wrote from my heart.
I was fairly used to “A”s because I toed the line (on my writing assignments, not when I duct-taped Mrs. Stabnow’s thermos lid from the inside) but the grade on this paper didn’t matter a bit to me.
When I saw the “A” I felt more relief than anything, but when I read the next words my spirit actually soared.
“Well done Judd. You are a great writer!”
But writing a novel is hard.
Years and years later and I’m finding it interminably difficult to sit down and work on my novel. I’ve got the goddam thing all written, all laid out as far as structure and style goes, my continuity is fine and I’m even writing fresh stories to fill in gaps and add needed humour and character development.
But something is still missing.
I’ve got 4 kids and a wife and I work from home. Finding “writing time” is never easy. I have to get into the right frame of mind, I have to find the right mood and I have to get everyone to shut the fuck up for at least an hour. None of this ever seems to coincide.
Yet, somehow, I’m able to sit at my computer for 2-3 hours at a time and bang out emails to friends, write blog entries on various sites and sometimes even churn out a short story or so for something on Page Buoy.
Why is it then, that I’m struggling so much with my novel? Because it’s so BIG and IMPORTANT? Because I’ve put so many goddamed hours into it? Because I’m at that stage where I’m trying desperately to make it as perfect as possible?
Maybe it’s more simple than that.
Les Edgerton to the rescue… AGAIN.
I’d ordered the book so long ago off Amazon (who has to ship from the US and can take weeks) that I’d all but forgotten about it. I’d been up one sleepless night trolling for books and remembered one of my absolute favourites, “Hooked” by Les Edgerton.
I Googled him, found another book or two on writing, got all excited and ordered one. Then I found his blog and then I emailed him.
He wrote back about an hour later. I still feel pretty effin’ coooool about that.
Then he joined Page Buoy, and that got me pretty fired up too. So I got all caught up in the excitement of trading emails with one of my Writing Heroes and the novel was, once again, an afterthought.
The book showed up yesterday, and it’s called “Finding Your Voice.”
Which is funny, because I’ve had a couple of people, one of them heavily-codenamed but still one of my e-favourite writerfriends, all tell me I had a very unique and funny “voice”. I can’t say as I’d ever heard it called that, but I knew what they meant. I suppose in literary terms, your “voice” is a pretty unique way of describing something that would be called “style” in other languages.
I started thinking about the voice I was using in my novel. And I started to get worried.
Finding my voice.
Then some of the gals in my other Writery Email Group Thingo were all commenting that I was good at cracking them up, and how they couldn’t wait to read my novel because it must be OMG Pee My Pants Funny.
“Shit,” I thought, “it’s really not.”
I wasn’t so worried about that though, it’s not really a humour piece and I’m not always out for laughs.
But it’s still missing something.
Wifeage and I got to talking about things last night, about how I relate stories from my experiences and how I used to blog about this and blog about that, and I got to thinking about my “voice”. I use my “voice” in just about everything I do, from Facebook to Small Business Forums to emails to my mother.
It’s easy, it just flows, and I almost never have to think about it.
How to get it into my novel though? Rewrite the whole bloody thing?
Writing is like sex. If it feels like “work”, you’re doing it wrong.
“Well shit,” I thought again, “I’ve got some serious work ahead of me.”
Then I emailed my new email friend, Blue Skies Les, and told him that he’d written yet another book that had completely rocked my writery world, and I was only 35 pages in!
See, the problem, thus far, is that my novel IS a lot of work. I’m working my ass off to find time, to find motivation, to find the right words, the right style, the right flow.
Writing, good writing, my good writing, shouldn’t be this much work.
And I don’t reckon it will be.
For the first time in a very long time, maybe ever, I’m really looking forward to starting in on this novel again.
Because, if it ain’t fun, then why in the hell am I doing it?