I’m going to write another novel.
I surprise myself by
There’s a certain hubris to saying
I’m going to do something like that,
Like saying I’m going to
Run a marathon
Before I’ve gone out for my first jog.
They are not dissimilar,
Writing novels and training for marathons.
I’ve never run a marathon,
But from what I understand,
It’s a lot of
Getting up early in the dark
When everyone else is still asleep.
Sacrifices and trade-offs made.
Can’t stay up to watch
Sunday night football.
Gotta get to bed early,
Get up early for my
I feel okay telling you
I’m going to write a novel because
I’ve done it before.
So I know I can do it.
I think it would be possible to
Write one or two novels,
And run one or two marathons
With your eye on the result,
Yet hating the day-to-day training.
Bumbling out of bed,
Dreading the blank page or the
And making yourself do it
Because it’s one of your life goals:
To write a novel,
Or run a marathon.
But to keep doing it
Year after year,
Marathon after marathon,
Novel after novel,
You’d have to figure out
How to enjoy the daily training.
To not dread it.
To go to sleep at (8:00 at) night
Looking forward to your alarm going off at
Because you’ve built your
Life around this
Because you love it.
You love not just
Completing the marathon (the novel)
Or even the daily training exercise.
You love the daily training
My first two novels
Were so willful.
I was so fixated on the result of
Having Written A Novel,
That I dreaded the practice of writing.
“I hate writing;
I love having written,”
Said one famous author.
But that’s not sustainable.
What’s the point?
It’s very possible I
Won’t make a cent on my novels,
That they’ll get rave reviews from
Close friends and family,
And that’s it.
They might completely suck.
It’s a hobby,
And a pretty demanding one,
So I’d better enjoy it.
For me to learn how to enjoy a
4:00 a.m. writing session.
Mornings are best
Because I don’t have
Time to talk myself out of it.
Alarm goes off at 4:02 a.m.,
(That’s the name of my alarm:
Creep around the bedroom with my
Pulling on my training clothes–
Running shoes because
I write standing up.
Downstairs in the dining room,
I set up my writer’s space.
Virginia Wolff was wrong.
A woman does not need
And a room of her own
To write fiction.
The dining room table is my desk.
In the still-dark early morning,
I fill it up with candles, talismans and tchotchkes.
I provide myself tiny comforts:
My cozy red bathrobe,
Thermostat set at a decadent 72 degrees,
Thelonious Monk or Miles Davis on Pandora.
It takes patience
To settle into the
Of the daily practice of writing.
And strangely enough,
It’s the disappointments
(Two novels, not even published let alone
And a little suffering
(Drunkenness and then the bracing sobriety journey)
That have given me this
Writing novels takes the ability to both
Be in the moment,
And have the long view.
I can sustain both best in the early morning quiet
Of my candle-lit dining room,
My family sleeping around me.
In the soundtrack to my life,
This scene of me starting to write novels again
Would be set to
“Fire On The Mountain,”
Long distance runner, what you holdin’ out for?
Caught in slow motion in a dash for the door.
The flame from your stage has now spread to the floor
You gave all you had. Why you wanna give more?
The more that you give, the more it will take
To the thin line beyond which you really can’t fake.
Fire! Fire on the mountain!