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Things I have learned while hiatus-ing. (A novel update)

March 10, 2016

Novel Update 2 EG

“I don’t follow rules. I don’t really know what I’m doing, I just do things that feel right.”     -Yann Martel

I thought I’d pop back in here to give a little update as to how the novel writing is going, but also to somehow record/journal parts of this awesome journey. I have learned so much about myself just in these past few weeks and it’s important to me that I don’t forget a second of this part of my life, and the shift that has come with going out on a ledge and going after a dream. As exciting and terrifying and liberating and painful as that can often be, I am officially a fan, that I know for sure.

This time of learning how to get up every day and find the process of writing this story, of learning HOW to write this story, has in itself been hard work. It takes awhile to understand the groove of things, I think, especially when they are new and come with no sort of instruction manual. Finding and understanding the groove of it for yourself can only be done by, well… doing it. Then, after awhile, you gain experience as you’ve gone through some of it. And whether you find it or it finds you, I haven’t figured that part out yet, but that question alone is just one of the many things that has brought so much beauty and magic to this adventure.

Last month, I was gifted some much needed encouragement from a friend of mine who is – and I do not say this as an overstatement – one of the most talented individuals I’ve ever known. He’s an amazing writer, visionary and creative, and after I’d gone through a few “lost” days while in this writing process, Christian suggested I reach out to him. And so I did. I shared with him my frustrations and more so confusion in regards to the process of this whole thing. (There are many layers to that confusion but for time’s sake, let’s just leave it at “confusion about the process of this whole thing.”) Less than 10 minutes later, he’d responded. Tears, as I read his email, I cannot even begin to tell you how the things he shared met me at just the right place to where I understood them completely. And that did something for me – not only did his actual words help me through (to the point where I printed out his email and taped it above my desk), but just the mere fact that from a writer to another writer it made sense, that alone was realization that I’m in this now. I am a writer not just because I say that I am, but because I’ve chosen to be in this, and it has chosen me. His words didn’t give me my own answers (something I would have to do on my own and through the experience of it all), but instead they paved a new road for me to be able to move forward. And I am forever grateful to him for that.

Novel Update 1 EG

I’ve been listening to podcasts while on my daily walks/jogs and recently listened to an episode of Writers on Writing that just so happened to sort of tie together a lot of these thoughts I’d been having about novel writing. This particular episode was an interview with Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi (as well as many other books, all of which I’m dying to read now). Whether you’re a writer or not, I really do recommend listening to this interview with Yann. He covers an array of topics, like faith and religion, life and death (and not in a morbid sense at all), storytelling, and his personal experiences in novel writing. I found it to be very thought provoking, interesting, and inspiring – so much so that I barely got a legit workout in while I listened because I was stopping every few minutes to write down things he was saying that really resonated with me. And while I could write blog post after blog post based on everything he covered in those 30 minutes, there were a few things he mentioned that I felt might be appropriate to note in this particular post about what I’m connecting to thus far in this writing experience.

“The success of a book doesn’t improve you as a writer. Yes, it gives you confidence but it doesn’t make you a better writer.”

“They satisfy me, my stories.”

“Write without being attached to an end. You can’t write in the sole hope of being published.”

-Yann Martel

These things really just kind of put it all into place for me, finally; I connected to these things he was saying and the meanings behind them. And they gave me an unfound freedom to continue forward in doing and experiencing.

While there is nothing wrong with establishing goals or mapping out specific dreams, for me personally – doing so often destroys the dream. Once I’ve attached a specific outcome to a dream, not only does it give it an ending (and therefore forces me to plan far beyond where my mind should even be going at that point), but I believe it also changes the dream. It takes away the freedom that should be in all creative endeavors. Self-planned endings put certain pressures on ourselves and, again, while that’s not always a bad thing – because sometimes we do need to light a little fire under our asses to get us up and going – in this instance, for me, I need to write this story for the mere sake of writing it. Not just because I want it to be published. Not just because I want to be a best selling author. Not just because I hope for some kind of monetary gain. I need to write it because out of anything else in my life I could be doing, this is what I choose to do day after day. It’s what makes me feel the most alive, the most like me. And perhaps that’s a very selfish way of looking at it and I have accepted the possible fact that there may come a day when I no longer want to do this (novel writing), but – I want to experience life at this stage of my life through writing stories. I want to find my own definition of success. While this book could very well be an utter failure in terms of worldly reviews and opinions, as a recovering perfectionist myself, it feels incredibly liberating to DO IT ANYWAY. I have no plan, have no idea what I’m doing. I’m just taking a story that means a great deal to me and I’m writing it out.

There’s something to be said for simply choosing to do “it” (whatever your “it” may be) for the experience, for the process of it all. Because sometimes, while on our journey to make our dreams become reality, we realize it was never about that end result. The dream was in the doing. The dream was in the living. The dream was the journey itself. 

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  • Such inspiration Emily. Funny how your post came during a moment where I’m trying to get inspired about a blog theme I want to do. Like you said, “utter failure in terms of worldly reviews and opinions …” Should I just go for it and try or not try because I’m concerned with the response. To not try and always wonder? Not the magnitude of novel writing as yours is, but all the same, it’s an idea. So thank you for allowing us a glimpse into your days of writing…you still make a difference!

    • Love that, Michelle! (And can’t wait to check out this new theme of yours!) Thank you for the never-ending encouragement & support! I love that in blogland we can all do that for each other – as we should XO

  • Yes, sometimes we just have to write because a story is itching to be told. As a writer myself, I have gone through some questioning of my own. I’m glad you are just going for it!

  • I love this! I’m so happy for you as you go along on this journey.

  • I’m so excited to read the final project!

    ps. the above quote is perfect.

  • Yes I fully agree with this. A few years ago I ran a half marathon and while I put pressure on myself to finish with a certain time, I realized that running wasn’t about the end of the race. Success came to me when I worked hard to overcome my self-limiting doubts and fears. Success came to me when I pushed myself to accomplish something I had dreamed of doing for a few years. My favorite part of the race wasn’t at the end when i was given my metal. It was during training, when I pushed through physical and mental limitations – when I learned that I have enough grit and determination to finish something difficult.

    • That’s so true, Candace! (You also make me want to go running today, haha)

  • I say this not to make you feel bad or guilty but I miss you and your thoughts and your views that make me see things in a new light. You inspire me!

    • It does not make me feel bad or guilty at all- I totally know what you mean because I am missing all of you! (I’ll be coming back mid-end April) 🙂

    • (And THANK YOU) 🙂 xo

  • This is beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for always sharing your heart and your inspiration with your readers. xxx

  • *Slow clap* (cause I just don’t have any words)

  • So glad you’re following your heart with your writing journey! Love following your posts (even if there aren’t going to be as many while you’re working on your novel)! We may be in your neck of the woods this summer to visit my cousins who just moved to Franklin…if we do, I’ll let Christian know & hopefully we can all meet for coffee or something! 🙂

    • Thank you, Kelly! 🙂 Yes, let me know if you’re ever in the area! Franklin has a ton of great coffee shops!! 🙂

  • I will definitely be listening to Writers on Writing. I love talking, listening, reading about writing. I am so glad that you are on the ride you are on. And I would love to talk writing any time with you!! I feel like I need to go back to some old pieces and get back to it since I have just been distracted by producing blog content every day.

    • It’s so, so good, Nina. I think you would love it. Definitely go back and listen to past episodes too. I will say- the break from blogging has helped SO much when writing this book. I think we forget sometimes how much there is to blogging… it’s so much more than writing a blog post and is a definite time investment. (Which I also love though.)

  • “The journey itself.” YES! Most of life, if not all, is really about the journey and what a triumph when we finally realize that and quit looking for results or some such. Each step can be so beautiful and you are sharing that with us. I thank you, sweet Emily. I am going to forward this post to my dear husband, who at 68 is writing and following his dream of long ago! He will be encouraged that he is not too late. He looks at the process as you have written here…a journey.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    • Linda, thank you so, so much for this note. I listened to a podcast yesterday where the author’s one piece of advice for aspiring novelists was “Don’t give up. It’s never too late.” What an inspiration to know that your husband has made that decision! Thank you for sharing!!

  • Yes, sometimes having expectations from our goals and dreams makes us feel like less has been accomplished even if we have had the dare to dream in the first place. Loving all the insight you’re sharing during this process Emily!

  • Girl, you’ve been busy. 🙂
    Thanks so much for sharing your lessons. I always like seeing things from other people’s view and learning through their experience.

    • I do too! 🙂 I think that’s why I’ve been enjoying these podcasts so much – I love hearing about other people’s processes… reminders that there is no “right way.” You make your way the right way.

  • Those are fantastic quotes. A wise, wise man. 🙂
    I am totally with you – I love to have dreams and goals, but the minute there is an actual, specific ‘end game’ linked to one of them, it changes everything. I’ve always found myself drawn to dreams or goals that have a few possible outcomes. Don’t get me wrong – it unnerves me to no end to not *KNOW* how something will end. But I prefer that to the knowing. Isn’t that bizarre?
    This whole post is brilliant – and I am reading all of the “DO” from my word of the year in it. DO IT ANYWAY. That one may have to go up on my wall of ‘do’ quotes too!!!
    So proud of what you are doing. You are amazing, Em!!!! Keep at it girl!! XO

    • Not bizarre at ALL! I am right there with you! Thank you for the encouragement, friend!! It means the world to me!! 🙂 XO

  • inspiring quotes indeed! i hope for the best and your success 🙂