Having written

“I hate writing, I love having written.”

—Dorothy Parker

I finished writing the first novel in the Unification Chronicles series today. This is the first time I’ve actually finished a full-length novel since the spring of 1997, when I finished Between Heaven and Hell. Sounds like a big accomplishment, right? So why don’t I care more?

I used to completely identify with the Dorothy Parker quote above. (Hardly surprising, as she’s one of the godesses of snark.) I was all about the destination, in a hurry to get the journey out of the way. But in the last dozen years, a funny thing happened.

I became a writer.

Yes, technically, I was a writer in those early years, in that I wrote things. But I was always more concerned with what I was going to do after the book was written than actually writing it. In no small way, this is why it took me a dozen years to finish writing another book (even if that book itself only took six weeks to write). Because my focus wasn’t really on the writing. It was on other stuff. On what my life would be like as a best selling novelist, on quitting my day job, on getting to hang out in coffee shops all day.

Now, things are different. I’m older, and I’ve spent the last fifteen years writing consistently. Mostly nonfiction, but writing. Putting words together. In that time, I’ve developed a feel for the English language, taken a talent for writing and turned it into a skill. I still have a lot to learn, as evidenced by my already growing lists of things I need to fix when it comes time to revise the book, but that’s okay. The journey’s okay.

The fact that I’m not more excited about finishing my first novel in a dozen years could be best thing I could ask for in my writing career. Because the biggest reason I’m not more excited about finishing the first book in the series is that I’m already working on the second book. And the fact that I now derive more pleasure sense of accomplishment from writing every day than finishing a novel means I’ve learned to love the journey. I’ve become a writer.

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