That Novel Isn’t Gonna Write Itself

Writing is a weird hobby pastime obsession activity. On the daily face of it, writing fiction is this radically isolating lone endeavor – which one simultaneously thinks of as deeply intimate and private but also hopes that many eyes will eventually see. It’s a little bit perverse. It’s a little bit holy. It’s almost like a relationship, in the way it elicits emotional responses: the ebb and flow of writing makes me euphoric and amused, catty and cranky, edgy and angry, calm and contented. It’s a good thing I’ve already come to terms with having a brain that’s a little bit abnormal, or else I might seriously worry that writing was driving me bonkers.

I’m still working on a novel – not the one I’ve blogged about before, a new project. Hmmm, wait. It’s been ages since I dusted off the password for this place. Have I blogged about it?

Quick recap: so a while back (holy smokes, it was 2015!) I won NaNoWriMo and I worked on that project until it was query ready in 2016, but after months in the query trenches I decided to shelve that manuscript. I started working up a new idea, reading and researching, but I never got off the ground to write a single scene. I proceeded to spend the first half 2017 bellyaching about how I wanted to be a writer but life was too much in the way. I did all my other jobs to the Nth degree, but I let writing slip to the margins. And that sucked. So at the beginning of this school year (fall 2017), I decided to dive back in. I blocked off time in my daily planner to write – 3 schooldays per week – and I plotted and planned and character-sketched my way into a new manuscript. About 13,000 words in I just… fell out of love with it. I spotted a giant plot hole and I couldn’t think my way through it. There was no way to tidy up those jaggedy edges and darn that opening back together. And thus, that manuscript got shelved, too. My mood got worse – writing makes me crazy in some ways, but now that I’ve started it seems like not writing makes me worse.

I had a giant meltdown about a week ago I don’t wanna talk about it, there was ugly-crying involved, and despair and hopelessness and frankly a lot of melodrama and then I sort of snapped out of my funk. I don’t know what happened. It’s like the meltdown was a giant bolus of emotion that pushed away whatever was clogging up my spirit or my muse or whatever you’d like to call it. I got up the next morning feeling excited to write something new. That night in bed, I checked in with my online writer’s group and clicked a link to an interview with an amazing woman – she’s the author of multiple novels and memoirs as well as a teacher of writing at some pretty impressive places – and it was precisely what I needed to hear. I loved Ms. Shapiro’s words so much that I ordered her book Still Writing the next morning.

Anyway. It’s been a good 10 days. I feel like I’m back in the saddle. I don’t think plotting and outlining work too well for me – maybe it makes more work on the back end, but I really love discovering my characters as I go, so I’m going to try the pantser approach once more with this project. And this new WIP [work in progress] is actually giving me ideas for changes and additions to the NaNo project that I shelved a year ago. They aren’t in a series but they may occupy the same fictional universe, which could be fun.

There’s no punchline or great conclusion here today. It is what it is. Writing is weird, and I think I’m becoming a weirdo writer.

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MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

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