Wednesday, April 29, 2009

First Reader & The Loneliness of Writing

"Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day"
--Ernest Hemingway

Today was a good day. It was also a bit "historic." Maybe I'm making too much of it. Anyway, this weekend someone, other than myself, finished reading THE MOSQUITO VINE. I can't believe that there is another person out there that's read it. Despite the dread that comes with "the first reader" it was very exciting. Finally I'd be able to talk to someone about my book. I'd hoped that Leah would be the first person to read it, but my mother in KC has A LOT of free time on her hands right now, and so she beat Leah to the ending (I think Leah is half-way through).

I love both of these women, and they love me so how they feel about it--while important to me, cannot be trusted. Of course my mom liked my book. She's my mom, that's practically her job. So I still don't know how good (if at all) my first attempt at novel writing is.

BUT I got something much better than validation: I got to talk about my book. Imagine having an important secret (at least you THINK it MIGHT be important). You think about it everyday for two years straight. You battle it, unsure if you're doing the right thing...all the while everyone around you is oblivious.

I didn't bounce ideas off my wife. I didn't call my cousin up and say "I can't figure out the ending" or "I've gotten myself into a!" I did this all on my own. It's 100% me and my struggle. Sure, I posted a few things (including an excerpt) but other than the title I gave no details. It was very lonely, one of the loneliest things I've ever done.

One of the many (many) things I asked my mother was, "Did you like that? Did you like going in completely in the dark?" She said she did. She said her experience reading it was different (but probably better) having no idea about any of it. I think that's true for Leah too. I LIKE that I did it that way...but damn is it hard. I'm a chatty fuck, and like most writers I love to talk about myself and my shit.

I am gearing up for book #2. I have two equally interesting ideas. Two different directions. I can handle the solitude, but I don't necessarily look forward to dealing with it again.

A year and a half. That's how long I spent with this thing, in my head. In the back of my the front of my mind.

I've never been a big "people" person to begin with, but the isolation of writing can be a bit much even for me. I sometimes wish I wasn't compelled to do it. But I no longer feel that I have any other choice.

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