A while ago I wrote a post titled "The Writer" about my fiancé, a published author about to embark on his first book tour for his third work of fiction. This post is about me, and what being a writer means for, and to, me.
Sometimes it is hard being in a relationship with someone in your same field. A lot of times, jealousy can arise--jealousy for each other's successes. That may seem completely strange to some of you, the idea that you could be envious of your partner being successful, and not just happy for them.
But in the interest being honest with you (and myself) I will admit that I have more than once become jealous over my fiancé's latest writing achievement or milestones. And I think that is actually quite normal, too. I think it is normal to envy other writers, whether for the brilliance of their prose, the creativity of their ideas, or the success of their works.
And really, my jealousy is not limited to my fiancé. Rather, I envy multitudes of writers, for so many reasons. And my envy, while at times irrational and counterproductive, often only spurs me on with even greater fervor towards my own works.
Right now I am 12,000 words into my first novel. But I am also tip-tapping away at another potential novel at the same time. I have the two Scrivener files open 24/7 on my computer screen, and I carry around notebooks dedicated to each novel in the event that I think of something brilliant to add to either work while not at home.
The first 10,000 words of my newest novel were hard. I fought for them. Or so I thought. In reality, those 10,000 words practically flew from my mind down my fingertips to the paper. Now, I am struggling each day to even write 100 new words. Mostly I have been glancing over what I already have, and end up only rewording two or three sentences or taking out a handful of commas.
But that's how first novels go, and how first drafts go, and how writing goes. It is hard and it is painful. But then, if it wasn't, everyone would be a writer and there would be a gazillion and one novels out there, rather than the billion and one that there really are.
And I envy every one of those authors of those billion and one books because even if their works aren't that great, well, at least they made it and got them out and had their ideas printed into actual books, which is a far cry from what I have right now.
But that's only right now. I didn't expect to finish my first novel in only a month, and I haven't. But it has only been about that long, one month, that I have been working on these two novels. Well, the writing of them, at least.
I actually have had the ideas for these two novels percolating in my mind for a while now. The first I came up with almost four years ago, at the end of my freshman year of university. My final project was a very hasty and compact version of this novel which ended up being a total of 40 pages. I was so proud of that 40 pages, though. It was the longest story I had ever written. And it was complete shit writing, too.
And yet here I am again, readdressing the same idea and trying to expand on it, teasing out the subtleties of the world I created, getting to know these characters as full, actualized people and not static, one-sided figments of my imagination. Four years later, the ideas have expanded tenfold and are fitting together like a makeshift puzzle I am still building even as I begin to put it together. The concept is fuller (I think) and my writing is much better (I hope), but the core is the same.
The other novel I came up with only a year ago, and it is more fleshed out than the first, but it is also much more complex, its world needing so much more time and concentration to fully come alive for my readers. I have all the chapters and story arc mapped out, but I am having a harder time sitting down with it and getting it out. The characters are still revealing themselves to me, still blank faces with little pasts or reasons behind their motivations. It may take another three years for me to finish the novel, maybe longer. I really don't know.
Either way, I keep writing. I didn't pick this passion/career path because it was all fun and came so easy. No, I became a writer because the story I really want to read hasn't been written yet. And that is the goal that keeps me tip-tapping away at the computer keys or scratching down bits and pieces in notebooks full of swirly scrawls and musings.
So maybe until I have a novel to talk about and hand out to people and go on tour for, I will continue to envy other writers like my fiancé who have managed what seems almost impossible to me right now. Maybe even after I have written my first novel, I will continue to get jealous at others' accomplishments and successes. But hopefully, just as is happening now, my envy and jealousy will be the kick-in-the-ass I need to get back to work, to sit back in the chair and to keep chipping away at my next work, and my next, and my next.
My ultimate goal as a writer is not to have my name and face and books splashed all over giant billboards across the globe, but rather to have my words and ideas and messages spread across the world, imbedded into others' minds and hearts. I want my works to mean something, and not just to me. I want to inspire envy in other writers, just as the greats (and even some of the not-so-greats) have done for me.
I don't write for fame or glory. I write because I can't not write. The characters talk to me, the worlds build and unfold in my mind, and I am compelled to share them. I am a writer not because I am good at it, not because it is fun and easy, but because it is imbedded in me, a part of my very being. And so I keep writing.