This Is Not a Sign

It’s the end of a 14 hour day and I stare at the two things left on my calendar: blog and novel. For a moment, my throat catches. I’ve put writing last, well past my hour of fatigue, and here–at Interlochen Center for the Arts–of all places. But I can’t despair just yet. I have, after all, barely come off an incredible wedding weekend and a bit of packing and travel before that. Not to mention a few book events.

But still…I have never been the person that talks about writing, the never writes. I have always been the writer who writes. After my fellowship at Randolph College, I forced myself to put the first draft of the novel in a drawer. A hard but probably wise decision–and not based on any wisdom I gained by experience, rather, by asking my respected mentors what they did in the early stages of their novels (and most importantly, what they wish they’d done differently). All along, I knew I wanted my arrival at Interlochen to coincide with pulling that novel back out again and looking at it with fresh eyes. My first full day here, I was able to get through a few pages. The next morning, I got through a few more. But then I didn’t touch it for the rest of the Writer’s Retreat…and now, days later, I’m no further along.

To be certain, I have kept plenty busy this first week and a half here. The Writer’s Retreat ran smoothly and my first two days of teen classes feel solid. But my time is limited–just 8 weeks total up here in the North Country. There is good writing energy and history for me in this place. The chair and room I’m typing in now, after all, were the exact place I sat 10 months ago when my acceptance letter for Flashes of War arrived. And last week in Frohlich Lodge, I slept in the same bed I was sitting in when an email from my #1 NYC agent pick came in, encouraging me to write a novel. Across the way sits the cabin I began my war research in, three and a half years ago. Last but not least, in the driveway sits THE CLAW, the very symbol of this whole adventure of the writing life.

Today’s failure is not a sign. It is merely a momentary reality. Tomorrow is another day with more openings, and I can’t help but insist that by the end of this week (which will make 17 straight days of travel, directing, teaching, and events), my fingers will be on those drafted pages. With any luck, my heart will be rested and open enough to take another stab. I can’t imagine having it any other way.

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