My novel has collected dust on about seven computers. It sits, languishing, two-thirds complete, 18 years after its birth. From out of the fiery desert air it flew in from a dreamy trance, through my hands to the keyboard. It became a story, one which constantly begs to be completed.
Without reading my previous post on this subject, I know this is a different theme on a rerun. Instead of simply writing it, I’ve been contemplating doing so. The ideas ramble along inside my soul, but I cling to my unfinished story as if I’m afraid to let it go. It’s not right, I tell myself. The characters scream at me to visit them again. They want to show me what happens next. Yet I go back to read it so I may pick up where I left off and find myself wallowing in its imperfections rather than moving forward.
Why do I do this? After many conversations with my beloved best friend, the reasons for not finishing it heavily outweigh the logic of what I’m doing. It all boils down to insecurities I’ve burdened myself with. Sure, I can put words together which sound good. Non-fiction has always been my strength while this fiction is new. It’s scary. I’m not sure if I’m making up the story or if I’m simply reporting what I see. Some people will like it, some not so much. Of all the stories I’ve written, this angles off into another dimension. One which scares me. I can tell you about things which have happened, but making shit up is infinitely more difficult. My logical side says this ‘made up’ stuff should appeal to the audience, so it needs to be flawless. Since it is an unfinished first draft, of course it’s imperfect. Having the literary muscle to finish, then fix it so it is acceptable, is perhaps something I’m not endowed with.
I love my story. In places it’s fun, clever and witty. In others it drags on and is positively mushy drivel I couldn’t thrust upon any audience. Its premise is unusual, yet not entirely improbable. It cannot be critiqued until it’s finished though. If, after finishing the story, it isn’t well-received, what then? Would that make it a waste of time? Perhaps rejection would discourage me from writing again.
This story isn’t the only thing I’ve written. My non-fiction has been fairly well received, and reviews on my work have been refreshingly encouraging. I spend so much time on this side of my art table this Libra’s scales are horribly unbalanced. It’s just fear that keeps me from venturing over to the other side, to stand firmly planted in fiction, willing the scale to balance. Sure, FDR, I have nothing to fear but fear itself. Fiction scares the hell out of me.
Am I a coward? Well, not really. I take on challenges like Teddy Roosevelt charged up San Juan Hill. Whenever someone has said ‘you can’t do that’, I’ve done it. Usually with gusto. Even though one of my favorite quotes tells me I can do whatever my soul yearns to, that I have earned accolades for previous endeavors, I’m here now. Facing a wall that is not insurmountable, hesitating to ascend. What’s on the other side: success or failure? Perhaps ambiguity awaits my efforts. No accolades or failure, only mediocrity. I hate that! When I write, I yearn to hear praise. When it doesn’t come, I sulk.
What a punk. Just write the damn thing, Patrick. Good grief. Apologies, Jay Gooch. You deserve a chance to have the footfalls of your boots on a wooden floor imagined by at least whoever reads this dreadful whine. Just bring them some Limburger cheese to enjoy while they wait.