Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A year long goal

So The Cuteness is now older than a year. A year. Some time back in my own prehistory a year was a Forever kind of time. I counted my own age in half-years and a month was a nearly endless thing, instead of slipping by like they do now. There some evidence that this isn't just me, that we all experience it. But having The Cuteness around makes it harder to let time slip away. It slows you down, literally and figuratively. She changes and changes, and all those little milestones have a way of marking time, hour to hour, week to week, month to month.

She's walking now, and talking. I like to joke that the next step is getting a cell phone and asking for car keys, but it's true that, basically until she's 20, these milestones will keep happening. Which is to say until I'm 54. Which makes me think a lot about my own writing. In the past, I tended to write in fits and bursts, sprinting, as it were. But my life isn't really like that much right now. It's more like a marathon -- a long run, punctuated by many little milestones. So it feels right that I should try to write like that.

So this is my next year: I'm going to write a novel. I've come to some kind of resting-place, poetry wise, and sitting down to write more poems at the moment doesn't feel like it would be a step forward in any way. I'm going to put out a book, soon, to punctuate the poetry-writing (have a manuscript, and an amazing designer who is working on it.) It'll be a self-published thing, but a beautiful one, and I'm very proud of the work in it. And maybe (probably) I'll get back to poetry after next year. But I'm going to put it on hold for now.

As for the novel: I've no idea what it's going to be like. I know way, way too many novelists (yeah that last one's a brag) to think that this will be anything but a long and difficult journey. And I've never tried writing prose at anything close to this length. I've only taken a few stabs at short stories, and I wouldn't say I've had much of anything like publishable success. But I'm going to give myself a year, plus some. From now, until January 1, 2013, I'll compile a lot of words all together, in a single document, on a particular subject, and I'll give myself until then to see if I can make anything readable out of it. Most likely it won't be. But who knows? I've learned a lot by watching and reading the very, very excellent writers around me. What I've learned most is that it's a matter of putting one word after the other, without fear.

I know I'm scared. I've worked on it for three days now, and even though I'm trying to give myself an hour each day to do the work, I only made it 45 minutes before giving up. But I'll sit back down tomorrow and try again.

In the meantime, The Cuteness has started walking all over the place. She doesn't like being held anymore. She figured out how to put one foot in front of the other, and nothing holds her back. Every time she falls, she gets up, re-situates herself, and starts again.

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