After an entire semester of trying to get my footing with this whole “writing a novel” thing, the clouds are finally clearing.
The other night, after reading a little on craft and journaling for, literally, two minutes, lightning struck. I suddenly saw my novel coming together: the structure, the conflicts, the subplots…even a title, for chrissakes. In the half hour that followed the revelation, I mapped out my novel on index cards and stuck them up on my wall.
This got me to organize everything that I have sent out to my mentors thus far. Doing this led to the realization that that’s all I’ve been doing: sending out packets. I haven’t been thinking about this as a book. I’ve been thinking of it as separate homework assignments that I just have to get done. I didn’t fully understand the immensity of the project I’ve undertaken until I deconstructed all of my packets and re-arranged them into some semblance of cohesive, linear order.
Fear has been a governing emotion since I began this program: fear of not getting accepted, fear of not being accepted by my fellow MFA’ers, fear of not having anything worth saying…you get the idea. I think I’d put off turning my packets into a novel for fear of all the stuff I would find missing. Having done the work, though, I have to say I’m feeling more confident than ever. I’ve broken the work down into sections, and I know how many pages each section must be. I can see where the holes are, and where I need to dig deeper. As usual, my fears were totally unfounded and served to do nothing but feed my procrastination.
I have another packet due at the end of this week. After computer disasters caused my first packet to be weeks late, this one is coming just on its heels. But that’s fine by me. I have an outline, a structure, a name. And right now, that’s all that matters.