Jen Parks Writes a Novel
By Jen Parks, Bluegrass Writers Studio
Misery loves company. I probably shouldn’t imply, with the first sentence of my blog post, that writing is misery, because, of course, that isn’t always how I feel about it. Writing can be joyous, terrifying, exhilarating, maddening, and yes, sometimes, it can be miserable.
You may not think this, at first, though. Especially not when you sit down to the computer that first time, armed with a steaming cup of morning coffee and the story that’s lived inside your head for days or months or even years. Misery is the furthest thing from your mind. That story, you say? It has been begging you to write it. Inspired and caffeinated, you set down the coffee cup, crack your knuckles, and begin to type.
But two hours later, you flop back in your chair. Your arms hang limp at your sides, and you find that you are exhausted, truly mentally defeated. You stare at the screen in front of you. You’ve written two. No, not two chapters, mind you. Or even pages. Two paragraphs. And that story, the one that just two hours before seemed to be begging you to write it? You can’t hear it anymore. Maybe, you start to think, that it was not even speaking to you, after all. Maybe, you start to think, you can’t do this.
This experience is not unlike training for a marathon (I’ve run a couple). When you tell people around you that you are training for a one, their eyes will widen and their jaws will drop. Once they’ve recovered from their apparent shock, they’ll ask you what marathon you’re running, how far it is (as if the distance isn’t always the same), and, absurdly, if you think you’re going to win. They’re excited for you to be training for such an ambitious goal, and that excitement is so infectious, it can carry you through that first month or two of training, right up until that first real long run: a brutal sixteen-miler, during which it not only rains and/or sleets the entire time, you suffer from a nagging side stitch and a pain in your left hip so miserable that you begin to wonder if: a) it is the beginning of some significant injury, and b) if it’s not too late to sign up for the half marathon instead.
This year, I’ve enrolled in a yearlong novel course taught by professor and author, Nancy Jensen. It is the sole reason why I applied to be a part of the Bluegrass Writers Studio. Over the course of this semester and the next, I will be sharing with you my journey in writing the first draft of a novel. Though it will not be a how-to guide, of course, (you’ll have to enroll to do that), perhaps you’ll find comfort and/or entertainment in reading about my novel-writing journey – however joyous/terrifying/exhilarating/maddening or miserable it may be. Watch for my posts each month. Perhaps if we keep pace with each other, the bad weather and the growing pains will be half as disheartening, and the finish line will be twice as jubilant.
Published on September 15, 2014