Sunday, February 12, 2006

Literary Apology (in advance)


I saw Capote this week. I was terribly moved by it, particularly the angst of trying to get a book done. There's a point in the movie when Capote just wants the book to end. He had given four years of his life to it and he just wants it to be over with (even at the horrible expense of others). In writing my second novel "Talking to the Moon," I simply wanted the whole thing to be completed so I can go on with my life. I work a full-time job (along with other part-time gigs that may come my way), so my writing time was limited. I cancelled appointments, didn't return phonecalls or e-mails just so I could focus on completing the story. I lost friends over this, I'm sure. In my last post, I wrote about FINALLY reaching 75, the number of pages I needed to fully commit to a book. I think I understand why it took me so long to leap into that magical page: It's a pain to make that committment to write another novel again: the worry of doing justice to the characters; the research I'll have to do to make the plot plausible; the waking up in the middle of the night to jot down a few sentences that might make the story work--or not. All of this taking months, years even. Then after going through all of this, there is the possibility that no one will want to publish it. This is what I'm committing to when I touched down on page 75. To all my friends reading this, I apologize in advance for not returning your phonecalls, your e-mails, for not making your birthday parties and anniversaries, for not listening to your joys and problems, for not being there when you need me most. If you need to cut me out of your life for being a poor friend, an unconsoling shoulder, I'll understand. I am so sorry in advance. I'll be writing.

2 comments:

barbara jane said...

noel, this is really touching. while i am a poet and page count, i imagine, works differently than with novel writing, i know the kind of dedication and obsession required to write that book. i am currently writing my 3rd book while promoting my 2nd, and trying to plan my wedding, it is hard for us to balance this literary work with the rest of our lives, and it is hard especially for those around us to understand and accept this is what we do, that this is the life (vocation) we have chosen.

anyway, just wanting to say, i feel ya. see you next week. i hope you are still up for that belated drink :-)

Bob Hoeppner said...

I think I understand from a performing poet's point of view. I read my poetry in public, which means I need to keep churning out new poems for all the readings, and going to all the readings takes time away from my writing, yet it also inspires me for writing. It's a balancing act dilemma that tips one way and then another. Add to it the writing of poems for the page that don't necessarily work for the stage, but need to be written for submitting to literary mags, and it becomes even more of a quandary. Oh, and the kicker: there is just about zero money in poetry!