My life, my mood, my days, my sleep – everything goes better when I have an obsession. Not the unhealthy kind. Not the does-he-love-me-why-doesn’t-he-call kind of obsession. Not the I-need-a-new-pocketbook-and-complete-wardrobe-overhaul kind of obsession. Not the I- need-to-pull-my-life-up-by-the-roots-and-start-all-over kind of obsession. The obsession I need, the one that trumps all the crazy shit in my head, the one that makes my days flow and my nights restful is the obsession of story. Especially the obsession of writing a novel.
Not just any novel. Writing a novel I am not really into makes things worse, not better. But writing a novel that is holds my interest, that send me to the discovery of facts and history through research, a novel that feels valuable to me – nothing can replace this feeling. Nothing can lift me higher or soothe me more. Plus there is the fact that a novel takes a really long time write and so, I can count on this obsession to work its magic for years.
Yes, there are bumps in the road. Yes, there are days the writing feels awkward. Yes, there are days the words seem to crash into each other and trip over each other and talk over each other, like an over-crowded party. But if I feel engaged in the story, in the characters, if I feel I’ve made a holy pact with them to get this done (and the energy of this pact must flow both ways) then I move through these days knowing that work will make it better. That the next day will probably unveil something. That whatever mistakes I have made today can be unmade tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day I see the solutions. It’s called faith, and I don’t have it in every novel I’ve tried to write. I have had it in the ones I’ve brought to fruition though, and nothing can replace the feeling of having something that powerful in your hands.
Ten pages. Fifteen pages. Thirty-five pages is quite a milestone. One hundred pages is an amazing milestone. End of first draft. End of second draft. End of third. Fourth. Fifth. With each draft the character and story come more and more alive, and I, the author disappear. When I am finished the greatest sadness comes over me, not because I have disappeared from the pages, but because the journey is over. My friends, the characters, are done with me. I’ve served my purpose.
The next story obsession does not come so easily. I am bereft. I need to grieve. I want to write but I am cleaned out. I have nothing in me to write. There is a huge void inside me which the previous characters once occupied, and which future characters recognize as raw and bloody and not ready for them yet. That void belongs to someone gone. I have not figured out how to speed the process along. I berate myself at the end of every novel for not being “professional” enough to get back on the horse and write another book. I’ve even tried. In fact, I’ve tried many times. I suppose I could do it if doing it means putting words on a page. If sex means intercourse and not love. But I like love. And I wait for it again. And the worst part of this is that I haven’t figured out how to comfort myself while I wait. How to fill my time. The void of the missing characters is too great. A raw, gaping hole that weeps until its finished. Meanwhile I walk around and pretend to be a writer.
Written from the prompt Write About an Obsession