I think of myself as a writer, though professionally it’s been years since I’ve made my living through hands-on word-crafting. I do other things that are word-related, but I’m usually not authoring the words. I’m the one moving them around in some way, or telling other people what to do with them.
Sure, I write on this blog. But this is a hobby, side-project and small creative outlet. Trying to find meaning in blog posts is like trying to use your hands as a permanent water vessel. Which is to say, sometimes you can take a sip or two, but you won’t find a drink there most of the time, unless you are constantly refilling from a new source.
A book, though, stands on its own. It’s a self-contained world. It’s a permanent vessel.
I’ve had a long-simmering novel idea that I can’t get away from, and there’s no time like the present to commit to writing it. Every night (or as close to that as I can), I crack open a paper notebook and grab a trusty blue pen. I try to write at least a page (sometimes more, sometimes less) dedicated to character notes, plot development and storytelling. A page doesn’t sound like much, but if I do a page most days for a year, that should be close to 365 pages, And even if I miss a few nights, or even if half of those pages are terrible, that’s still 180 pages toward my novel.
My laptop is a terrible gateway to distraction, so I purchased a large, simple lined notebook from an office supply store. No leather-bound journals or handmade paper required. If I know that I’ll need to research something later, I make a note in the margin that says, “RESEARCH” or “LOOK UP LATER.” Some nights I simply jot notes of inspiration from other works of literature, hoping that I’ll absorb a bit of genius from literary giants.
And yes, I’ve missed some weeks with illness, events, exhaustion and other distractions. But if I can keep chipping away, one night at a time, I’ll have a book.
Later still, I’ll be brave enough to share my progress with trusted friends and readers. And then I’ll get braver and try to publish it. But for now, the first step is opening that notebook. Writing the words. Creating a world that no one else has thought up yet.
I am writing a novel. I am a writer.