How do we know we’re writing the book we’re meant to write? I went to a writer’s conference this past weekend, and I happened to mention to someone I have been working on a particular story for almost 10 years. Luckily, their eyeballs were securely attached otherwise they’d have bounced right into my coffee.
It’s not that I haven’t written anything else, mind you. But it’s that I haven’t given up on this one. Has anyone heard of the term ‘under the bed book’? It’s that story that you struggle writing and can’t seem to finish or untangle and it finally gets shelved, or shot, or drowned in the neighbor’s pool.
When I first heard that term, I stoutly told myself, ‘This will NOT be an under-the-bed-book!” And since that day, I have stuck to my decision. I wonder why, though. What about this book has kept me loyal for nearly 10 years? Is it because the characters keep visiting me during my daily chores or while I’m in the shower? (ahem, I won’t go further with that one…moving on…)
Or is it because the story needs to be told by me? It’s a wild, out-of-control story. It stares at me, taunts me, challenges me, tracks me day after day. It’s sink or swim, baby. Either I bury it alive and hope to hell that it doesn’t rise in the dead of night and stalk me ‘til I’m insane. Or I take it on, despite the risk of it being a losing battle.
I took it on, losing battle and all.
So, then of course I debate my choice. Am I being my stubborn, foolish self, refusing to go down without a fight? Or is it because this book is The One?
Even as this book rests in the hands of other people, I don’t sit in the garden twiddling my thumbs, wondering what to do next. I write something else. I take a course. I attend workshops, lectures, conferences. I seek advice. I learn and share what I learn. I play around with words, and emotions, and action, and new characters and problems until I come up with another story idea.
Know what? That wild, outta control book motivates me to do all of that stuff above. I want to learn, and write, and grow so I can nail that one book that started this maddening, inconvenient, but passionate life called Writing.