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9:05 a.m. - 2013-02-16
novel under construction
I'm still working on that novel. Still getting up at 2 am to write every night. It's only been a week or so of doing this -- instead of trying to carve out space during the day with my kids trashing the house and interrupting me every two seconds -- but it seems to be working. I am wide awake at 2 a.m., and my kids, thank God, are not. My kids are wide awake anytime between 5 am and midnight, bouncing out of their beds like little Jacks-in-the-Box should I try to do something other than clean up after them, but at 2 a.m. they seem to be out of commission.

I figure if I write two or three pages a night I should have a book-length manuscript in about six months.

The more I write, the more it seems quite possible to me that I could write a novel that people would pay to read. You'd probably think the fact that I was a journalist for 10 years would make me confident in my writing, but I think it's had the opposite effect. I've suffered through so many horrific writing specimens over the years (submitted by folks who think they are the next John Steinbeck and or Stephen King) that I've concluded 99.9 percent of wanna-be writers absolutely suck. If someone thinks he's working on a best-seller, it's a good sign the manuscript should be burned, unread. If you really have something to say to the world, I'd much prefer that you say it to your spouse or your parakeet than force me to sit through your morass of incomprehensible, unreadable, poorly punctuated, plot-less semi-schizophrenic garbage. Would-be novelists (that I've encountered) are usually spoiled children who think everything they do is brilliant. Most ofn them believe they could do my job better than I do it, but they are too brilliant and special to waste their writing talent on writing for a paycheck. If I ever attempt to give honest feedback (a toned-down version of, "Have you ever considered expressing yourself through, say, art or photography?") they tell me I'm too dumb to understand good writing.

Are we ranting? Yes, we are ranting. My point is that most people who think they could write a good book can't and shouldn't -- and I fear I am no exception to that rule. That feeling kept me from even trying for a long time -- because I didn't want to be another arrogant wanna-be with no talent.

A. is the No. 1 reason I am working on the novel now. She was really impressed, when we first met, that I've earned my living writing since I was 19. That gave me a boost of confidence, along with the fact that Matt isn't in my face, overshadowing me, 24-7. I also realized that writing is my best and only shot at making enough money to see the world. I want to see the world, and I want to take A. with me. So when I wake up at 2 a.m. and start hitting the keys, I'm not writing for fame or glory -- I'm writing for our plane tickets.

The novel I am working on has been in my head for years. It's somewhat personal, and I was always pretty sure that if I ever did manage to write it, my material would exhausted and I would be a one-hit wonder. (Or, more likely, a one-manuscript failure.) But last night, while A and I were talking about a Stephen King movie, I realized that I knew exactly what I was going to write about in the second novel, should I ever finish the first.

I thought, I can do this.

It was a wonderful feeling.

So maybe I can't. But for once in my life, I'm actually going to take on a challenge that I know will probably result in failure. What are my choices? Writing is the only damned thing I'm good at.



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