Monday, June 22, 2009

The Need For Speed by Karin Gillespie

I’ve never been attracted to yoga as a form of exercise. It seemed too tame, and not very resulted oriented.
I didn’t have time for leisurely neck and shoulder rolls that didn’t make me feel the burn.
For several years I had a similar attitude toward my writing. My first novel took me over a year to write but, hey, it was my first. Novels number two and three took six months a piece. My editor and agent at the time were impressed with my speed. Could I write a collaboration novel in three months? Sure thing. I liked a challenge. Totally pulled it off. I was Super-Novelist. Faster than a blinking cursor.
Novel five didn’t go quite as quickly. It took me almost two years, and it was only 75,000 words. I felt like a total wuss; after all I know some romance novelists who were writing four novels a year. Plus, since I came to novel writing pretty late (in my forties) and felt I couldn’t afford to futz around for two years on one novel. Not to mention that most publishers like authors to write a book a year.
So with novel six, I did some prep work. Instead of writing by the seat of my pants, I outlined; I did character sketches. I figured I’d knock it out in six months, seven months tops.
So much for best laid plans: I’ve been working on novel six for two and a half years and counting, and I’m still not done.
To be honest, I thought I was finished several times over, but the feedback I got said otherwise. I was completely annoyed with myself. Why was I taking so long? Had I forgotten how to do it? How was that possible after having written five previous novels?
Finally, after lots of tears and sleepless nights, my muse and I had a come-to-Jesus meeting of sorts and this is what I learned:
1. Every novel has its time table and this one had decided it’s a long distance runner, not a sprinter. No amount of hissy fits on my part would change that.
2. I’m hit a learning curve in my writing. I’ve wanted to do things the old way but this novel won’t allow it. It’s pushing me in a different direction.
3. It’s all about the journey. I can get across this country using Interstates or bumping along back roads, but I trip is going to be all the more memorable if I’m not so intent on completing it by a certain date.

Once I made the decision to let this novel take its own sweet time, it’s been giving back more to me in more ways than one. It’s reminding me to slow down in other areas of my life, even my exercise. I actually bought a yoga tape, and I loved it so much I decided I wanted more tapes with more exercise. Maybe I’d even take class at the Y and read some books. Maybe I’d eventually become an instructor.
It took me a few minutes to realize that I was back to my old tricks. So I took a deep breath through my nostrils . Time to slow down.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Yeah, and then there are those stories of writers that wrote the successful novels in a few short weeks. Oy vey.