The Forward Path – March 2013
Torn between two lovers
Feelin’ like a fool
Lovin’ both of you
Is breakin’ all the rules…
So it’s been a long time since I’ve posted an update on The Forward Path (August 2012, to be specific).
Much change has come to my little writing perch since last summer. The changes are necessary, and good for me and my larger goal of becoming a novelist, but I have to confess they are also bringing the lyrics of the sappy 70’s Mary MacGregor song, Torn Between Two Lovers, frequently to my mind.
For the first eighteen months of thunderstrokes, my focus was almost exclusively on the blog. Envisioning the blog. Creating the blog. Writing stuff for the blog. Expanding the blog. Blog, blog, blog. All of which was great, because I was teaching myself how to start a piece of writing (always a struggle for me), and then finish it (a much bigger struggle), and then throw it out there into the wild blue yonder (by far, the biggest struggle of all). It was great practice, and great fun. But it got to the point where the blog consumed about 90% of my writing time. That left precious little time for the book I wanted to write. And writing a book had been my brass ring, my reason for taking a left turn in life.
Somewhere around October of last year, I felt like the time had come to make a transition, a switch in emphasis away from writing for the blog, and towards the book. That meant devoting my most creative and productive time (my 4 a.m. mornings) to writing the novel. The effect was immediate and transformative. I wrote about 50 pages of a first draft in those first three months. My writing time ratio reversed itself, going from a 90/10 blog advantage to a 90/10 book advantage. And I have fallen in love with the story I’ve been given to tell, the story of a boy named Les Mendoza. Now I feel like I have to tell this story, because I’m the only one who can tell it. And there’s a whole lot of story to tell, let me tell you.
That’s a lot of tells, isn’t it?
Anyway, the price of all that telling is that the blog is now consigned, as it must necessarily be, to playing second fiddle. What’s that old saying? ‘You can’t serve two masters?’ Or is it ‘You can’t master your serve?’ For me, both are equally true. Whichever of those means you can’t devote yourself to two things at the same time is the one I mean.
In consequence, my writing output for the blog decreased rapidly. It’s easy enough to see the slippage; I went from 8 in August to 2 by November. I haven’t had more than five in a month since then.
At first, I felt very uncomfortable with reassigning my writing priorities. I hated going to my blog and seeing the same thing for two or three weeks in a row. In addition, I felt like I was letting those people down (oh, those precious few!) who had become accustomed to reading whatever bizarre thing I might have to say on a semiweekly basis.
I feared that I may have inadvertently given the impression that I was getting bored with the blog, or that I was losing creative steam. Nothing could be further from the truth, although I knew they had no way to know that, since I hadn’t communicated the reasons for my neglect. You know, that gives me an inspiration for my future epitaph:
Here lies Kevin: Great Writer, Lousy Communicator.
That may turn out to be the story of my life in four words or less.
Now that it’s a few months later, I have to admit that I miss the blog. I miss being able to jump all over an idea, to fly free and pursue anything that catches my eye. I miss the spontaneity, the gratification of seeing something new posted, the sense of fulfillment that comes from growing a quality body of work, and the true joy I’ve found in starting and (more importantly) finishing something, and then (most importantly) turning it loose upon an unsuspecting world.
I’ve discovered that novels are the long-haul truckers of the writing world, and you have to be okay with the long-haul lifestyle, because you’re in that cab by yourself for days and months at a time, and rest stops are few and far between. It gets lonely in there, and a little smelly at times, and sometimes you get sick of hearing yourself talk. It’s easy to feel disconnected without the feedback, without the sense of somebody else being there to talk to, or at least to hear you talk, to verify your sanity, or at least affirm your own peculiar form of insanity. I strongly suspect that those who rely on quick results and instant gratification shrivel up and blow away pretty quickly in the novel-writing business.
In short I have learned that novel-writing is not for the faint of heart, nor the doubter of faith. And that means I must change in order to become who I am.
Did I just blow your mind? I think I did mine. Or maybe it’s just post-nasal drip.
At any rate, hopefully that explains why there’s a good deal less going on here at thunderstrokes than there used to be. It will probably remain that way for the foreseeable future. If it changes, dear reader, I promise to let you know. Within six months, per our usual agreement. Thanks for reading, and sorry for being such an insensitive bore.
Hey, now there’s an epitaph for you: Thanks for reading, and sorry for being such an insensitive bore.
Want to know something you don’t want to have plastered all over your headstone?
The lyrics from Torn Between Two Lovers.
And that’s how I’m going to tie this one all up.
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