Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On Writing

A funny thing happens when you do NaBloPoMo. As you rack up ten or so days, you start to realize the absurdity of it all. It's like a marathon or contest, and one wonders, why do it? Or at least I do. For me it's not to prove my writing prowess (ha!), or certainly not to compete with other bloggers (again- ha!). It's more for the practice of it. So, what do you take away from that practice, that staring at the page, that reaching within and maybe coming up with something sadly imperfect?

I've been thinking about writing a lot, well, actually I've been thinking about writing all my life. Lately, I'm fascinated by novel writing. How the hell do people do it? It's such a huge amount of work, it seems to me. How do novel writers keep going? Why don't they quit? My biggest qualm is with a question that often plagues me when I start a piece of fiction: is this worth it? Is this the right story to be spending my time on? That's why writing a food blog is (somewhat) easy for me. It's comforting. Here's a topic, write about it, there's a picture here for you to focus on if you stray. There are clear steps, tidy beginnings and, best of all, endings. The question I have when I write fiction is the same question that starts to bubble up now that I'm writing here every day and that is: why am I doing this? That question is really a lesson in faith.

Those words make me pause and stare out the window at a school bus driving by. At the smoke trailing from my neighbor's chimney. At the russet oak leaves still hanging on at the top of the trees, waving in the sky. I begin to feel as if I may be biting off more than I can chew with this post. I like order, and when things start to veer off into chaos I get a little nervous. This is when I choose to close the laptop and head out into the chill wintry day. Thankfully, it was time to pick up my son from school. Now, I'm back, it's after dinner, the table is clean, the sink full of dirty dishes, and I'm here at the computer again. Staring at the "page." What was that about faith? I want to go read by the fire!

Right now I want to push this post to the middle of my queue of posts, and drum up something else, like a post I have sitting around for such emergencies on home made gifts for the holidays. It's making me feel a little wiggly. Do I have faith in my writing? I must, seeing as how I'm still writing. But to be honest, it doesn't feel like how I think faith should feel. I still question the writing. I still question the page. Maybe that's what faith is. Maybe I've had it wrong all these years thinking faith makes you impervious to questions. Maybe faith helps you ignore the whys, so you can keep on moving forward.


  1. Wow. Thank you for this, for sticking with it and reaching for something profound. Six years into my novel (I swear it will be done in 2014), I can only say that it never occurred to me that faith is involved. Desire, drive, ambition, curiosity, passion, yes…but I think faith in—what? writing? myself?—must factor in there somehow...

    1. And thank you for cheering me on, Laura. It means a lot! I didn't know you were writing a novel, but it doesn't surprise me. I'm looking forward to the day I'll be able to read it!

      I guess you have to have faith in what you write, so that's faith in yourself, too, right? I feel it's religious in a way, it's that "leap of faith." I like this Kierkegaard quote: "Thinking can turn toward itself in order to think about itself and skepticism can emerge. But this thinking about itself never accomplishes anything." I am often skeptical about my writing (Will anyone read it? Like it? Is it worth it for it to even exist?) and as you can see, none of these thoughts are helpful to the writing process. I think that's where faith comes in.