For eight years, I toiled away on my book. An English literature major in college, my goal in life was to eventually become a novelist. It took a while but I never gave up my dream.
I kept the book-in-progress mostly to myself, afraid of the cliche of being middle-aged with a half-finished manuscript gaining dust in a desk drawer – like a treadmill in the corner of the laundry room used only to dry items of clothing.
Afraid of being asked the questions, “what is it about?” or “when is it going to be finished?” – I lived the life of a solitary writer with a story pleading to be finished.
One year ago today, June 8, 2021, after all the research, writing, re-writing and editing as well as all of the procrastination and self-doubt – my novel was ready to be revealed to the world.
The response at a Facebook announcement of “what I had written” and “what it was about” was wonderful. 158 likes, 124 comments of which half were surely my responses to thoughtful reactions. I thank all of you and everyone I have encountered who has said a nice word. Not every word has been kind, but that goes with putting out any creative endeavor. Thankfully, the good has drastically outweighed the bad by a very wide margin.
I am not one to dispense advice on finishing a personal project in a timely fashion. Things take the time they take. But I can say a few words about perseverance. Believe in yourself! We are all a combination of our greatest critic as well as our greatest ally.
If you have a passion for something, keep chipping away at it! I run a bit, eight half-marathons in the last several years – and perhaps a full one in the future. I can’t say I am a marathoner but I like to joke that I have run the equivalent of four marathons. Take your victories where you can find them.
I like the comparison of running and writing. Completing my novel was a journey, the finish line seeming quite distant, but with one more word – just like with one more step, I edged closer and closer to my goal!
You can too if something means so much to you that even if it is daunting at times – you simply can’t stop thinking about it.
Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a book called The Four Agreements. They are:
1) Be impeccable with your word
2) Don’t take things personally
3) Don’t make assumptions
4) Always try your best
I promised myself I would write a novel and I did. It wasn’t an easy task at times but the struggle added to the sense of accomplishment.
I don’t blame myself for taking so long to do so or get mad at the handful of others who have been unkind or simply don’t like my book. It helps quite a bit that so many have enjoyed the novel and the joy I feel of engaging with someone who loved the novel is tremendous, like no other feeling I could have ever imagined – sort of like a runner’s high – but even better!
I didn’t assume great success or that this self-published, self-funded novel would make me rich. Breaking even and building on that is all I wanted. The one thing I really desired was to finish what I sent out to do.
I hoped to have the follow-up novel out by now, but finances and circumstances have slowed the process. It is mostly done – but again things take the time they take. After publishing the first one, I have no doubt that the second one will be ready sometime in the near future. All I can do is try my best.
And that’s all anyone of us can do!