Here is a conversation between Me Last Year and Me Today:
I opened my Google Drive folder this morning to get back to work on my second novel. My second novel. Ha! That makes it sound like there is a first. There is, sort of, if you want to call the unpublished manuscript gathering dust and dog hair on my desk upstairs a novel. After a year of half-assed query writing, e-soliciting literary agents I've never met, and struggling to create an interesting book proposal for a book even I'm no longer interested in after re-reading it for the five hundred millionth time, I gave up trying to get my first novel published.
I haven't though, perhaps naively, given up my dream of being a writer. In fact, since I cut back to part-time hours at the library over a year ago with the goal in mind of getting published, I feel like an actual writer more than ever, despite failing to achieve my goal.
"Published, Schmublished," I say. Fuck marketing myself. Fuck begging for a little attention from a pimp with an advanced literary degree and a fancy office somewhere across the country. I'd rather blog in my basement with the mold keeping me company. I write nearly every day. My voice is heard by thousands of people. Or at least thousands of times by the same handful of fans who come back for each of my posts. How cool is that, knowing I'm not alone in my weird thoughts?
All I know is my blog is getting massive amounts of pageviews daily. I don't need a publishing house fattening up my bank account and sending me on book tours to sophisticated locations to feel like my dream has come true. I'm a writer. Already. I feel it every time I click that big orange "Publish" button at the top of my blogger account and I sit back to watch the pageview counter rise.
Still though, I'm prone to pangs of jealousy I'm not proud to admit whenever I have a lucky encounter with a published novelist, or when another blogger I've been following posts the good news that she's gotten an offer for her first novel. Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled for them. But it's difficult for me to not compare myself to other writers and start to regret how good I am at rationalizing happiness. Do I really only want to blog? Do I want to write because it feels good, or do I want to write because I have something important to say? Do I not hold a special place in my heart for the healing powers of fiction, knowing that some topics need more than a few paragraphs in a blog to address?
I do want to publish a novel. Even if it's hard.
These essays I post here, they're great. I love them. I love having a forum to express myself and to talk about how politics shape our daily lives. I love how focusing on the details of anybody's daily life can promote the broad feeling that we are all interconnected. I love the instant gratification of blogging. I write. I post. I share. You read.. It's simple. It's streamlined. It's easy.
Easy is good. But so is complex. And nuanced. And hard.
There is something special that develops between a novelist and a reader. It takes hours to read a novel. Days. If someone is willing to spend that much time focusing on your ideas, they deserve something you devoted yourself to.
So I'm going to give myself a second try with this novel writing thing. It's hard. I know that. And its ultimate resting place could very well be next to its older sibling lying on my desk upstairs. If nothing else, when I've bankrupted our family by my unpaid literary pursuits, we can use the manuscripts as kindling for the garbage can fire keeping us warm on the streets. But my second novel won't go anywhere until it moves out of my head, so I gotta get back to my manuscript and quit blogging about how I want to write a novel and just go write it already.