When you’ve exhausted all avenues of procrastination, when you’ve done the dishes, called your mother, cleared your inbox, and cum until your wrist aches… all that’s left is you and time, locked in a stalemate. This is the moment of courage, of faith. Why write a novel? Why put yourself through the torture of trying to communicate an intimate kaleidoscope reality, an entire world, through the blind stick figure middlemen of letters on a page? This cannot be a choice, because if it were, no novel would ever have been written. Story pushes up from somewhere deep, deep within our bodies – our words are only the tiny penis tip of our creation.
Words. Like icebergs, they hide the danger of their true momentum far beneath the surface of the screen. Words, such failingly inadequate tools of translation, trying desperately to bring two brains into harmony, two viable worlds into parallel, if only for a few hours. But this is enough. It has to be. Because it is all we have.
Our office I.T. man just caught me crying at the reception desk, a smile on my face, but tears rolling freely down my cheeks. He caught me playing with words. I can feel my story rising, but my bones won’t give it up so easily. I’m sweating in sheer liquid terror of commitment. This is National Novel Writing month and the pressure’s on. Time taunts me from my wrist, the corner of my computer screen, the phone display. Its old dare is full force in my ears…. Come on, come on Cymbria, take me, use me to hold your story away from your body long enough to share.
I am not a coward. But maybe I am. Maybe that’s why my story is so hard. My body knows the truth, that once I commit to the novel, there is no other way. Why write a novel when immortality is a lie? Trends tease, then take it all away. Computers crash and books burn. Why write a novel? Because it is not a choice. It is an act of desperation. One story standing brave before the Tiananmen onslaught of our oblivion. It is the physicality of our body’s deepest truth, and hope. We can try to mute it, tamp it down with drugs, drama, or alcohol. We can lie to ourselves and say it won’t mean anything. Or that nobody will care. Money? In this age of cheapened, transient words, money is a mockery of motivation.
If you’re already writing this November for NaNoWriMo, I am in awe of your bravery. My own novel is taking me on a far longer journey – damn it! We want to connect, to time, to ourselves, and to others – it is our most primal want. If words are your tool of connection, you have no choice. What do I want? I want magic, like the first hot breath of a BJ, I want to feel my readers wanting everything I have to give them, and then wanting more. Because in the end, want makes time real, and this is all we have.
10 thoughts on “Committing to the novel when your body knows the real story”
Just caught this on way out.
You have captured the writers angst…… no deeper than angst…..what YOU captured.
Remember you can achieve successful living through failure but failing to try is to achieve??????
Words, “easier said than written!!!!” or or the quote goes something like that.
And there is no failure in loving…
Thank you David!
Poetically cryptic in the most wonderful way ~
I completely agree that words are “easier said than written”. In writing, we are somehow expected to include all body language, subtle enunciation, and layered meanings with only sentence structure to give breadth to the true meaning of our words. As devoted as I am to the craft, there’s something so pure and true about accessorizing our words with our real-time human presence. My brows and bottom lip have written a hundred Homer epics in their time, and have sung and equal number of siren songs. As, I’m sure, have yours. There is no failure in loving – so true. And it’s our lucky loves who can read more from those furrowed pouts than anyone else ~wink.
Write it! I’ll read it. 🙂
Right back at you! Still love that piece you wrote about riding the freight train… oops, not to rat you out the authorities or anything 😉
“…to communicate an intimate kaleidoscope reality, an entire world, through the blind stick figure middlemen of letters on a page?” I love the metaphor of words as blind stick figure middlemen of letters on a page…as always, yours is a provocative musing, that touches the nerve centre of what matters. perhaps I should be more suspicious of these middlemen who step quickly across the blank spaces, filling in time, filling in space, filling in presence….my own novel is simmering on the back burner, well, not so much simmering, as boiled dry, as I tend to the minutiae of everyday life….and yet, there is something special about every day life, unique to our own presence, each day we shape the world in our presence, and absence….we offer words, sounds, movement, it is in the offering and receiving that we live our novels, temporal yet forever in play….the word beyond courage is surrender, to embrace the empty space and sound our presence knowing that we are unique, that our novels are born in each breath….impossible to write down yes, and yet, possible to evoke renewal…our bodies know when to release our stories, when the time comes, it simply comes, and we cannot but respond, laying down our story letter by letter…let your tears flow freely, they are the body’s first paragraph….turn off the clock, and like a sunflower, turn towards the light of dawn.
Beautiful!!! A remarkable stream of consciousness from a remarkably conscious mind. “…our bodies know when to release our stories…” is a trust we must fall back to when are called to go, as you so wonderfully put it, beyond courage to surrender. “…we offer words, sounds, movement…” You know, I’ve never thought of it like that, but it’s so true – and makes so much more tragic certain writing group podium moments (~wink) when one has the courage to offer all these precious gifts at once… only to be destroyed. Been there, bought the T-shirt. The Aztecs tore beating hearts out of chests to appease their gods. And it’s a terrible thing that, as writers, we can offer our own and still the harvest will fail.
But I can’t help wondering, Lynn, if childbirth would mean so much if it didn’t rip the fabric of the entire universe apart in blood and pain. What is the cost of a new life, a new novel, as yours sits on the stove with its bottom burnt out, waiting to be scoured or lost to your surrender? All of this to say… be careful this comforting, comfortable coating of poetry is not simply the mind’s way of letting you pussy out!
“Why write a novel? Because it is not a choice. It is an act of desperation” – absolutely true. Hemingway put it this way – ‘writing’s easy, you sit down at the typewriter and bleed’. Perhaps the hardest part, after the wrench of accepting that you want to share the emotion – for this is what writing always becomes – is translating the perfection of concept in your mind, through to the written page – a translation from the simultaneity of emotional thought into the linear thread of words that can only ever approximate the truth of the meaning you intend. It becomes desperate; you bleed. There is no choice. Yet from all that comes an authenticity that draws the reader irresistibly into your story.
Didn’t know Hemingway was so prone to papercuts lolz! I know he drank, and standing all morning in from of his clunker with shaky hands must have been a recipe for slicin’ n dicin’, but he really should have been more careful. Hehee (couldn’t resist)
Love your description: “…a translation from the simultaneity of emotional thought into the linear thread of words…” And yes, they can only ever approximate, which is so ridiculously frustrating! But the real gift is when the reader comes along and widens the breadth of those words once again with his/her own unique simultaneity. That’s why I always found literature classes so frustrating. Don’t tell me what the writer meant or was thinking at the time – I really don’t give a #$&. Don’t pin it down, don’t restrict the already narrow linear channel. Just let the words broaden through my own memories and associations into the surprise of a new landscape.
Like a painting, I believe the form of the novel is at its most powerful when it becomes a mirror with an infinite depth of field. Otherwise, what’s the bloody point!
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