In college I always considered myself, in at least one way, more fortunate than most of the other students because I never doubted what I wanted to be or do. Since I was 11, I wanted to be a novelist. A potent, strangling fear of failure is the reason I have reached the age of 36 without a single serious attempt at writing a novel.
One of my New Years resolutions was to finally write a novel. Of course, I resolved to do the same thing in 2010 and 2009 and probably a few before, but, you know. Next year John Cusack is going to destroy the world, so this pretty much has to be it.
Also, I think one of my other resolutions - to update Superheroes, etc. every weekday for six months - has done its job. The idea of putting words on the page without petrifying myself with doubt seems much more reasonable after a month or so of keeping my promise.
I have these strange, silly urges to develop some kind of rituals regarding my writing. I do not think these rituals will help me in any way; though who knows? I just want to do them. I've decided rather than allowing myself to feel ridiculous about it, I'm just going to give in and let myself be silly (something I have little problem with in other aspects of my life).
For this first novel, I am going to have two rituals. The ideas for these rituals were inspired by my co-worker Sarah and two new acquaintances of mine. These specific rituals are actually going to have something of a symbolic relevance to the novel I'm writing. Unfortunately, I don't want to talk a lot about the particulars of the novel because, well, I don't. This is yet another urge that I feel is necessary to adhere to regardless of whether or not there's any real sense to it.
But when the thing is done, at which point I will have to build mountains of sandbags sprouting Gatling guns to fight off the maddened hordes of publishers wanting to print the novel, you will get your chance to learn exactly what relevance the rituals have to the novel's content.
Ritual #1: BEARD
As I've mentioned a couple of times on the blog, my radio station is currently at the end of the longest fund drive we've had since I started working there 7 years ago. My friend and co-worker Sarah half-jokingly suggested those males capable of manly beard growth should grow their face-manes until the fund drive was over. I actually went along with the plan at first; mainly because it was an excuse to be lazy.
Eventually I shaved, but not because of a lack of solidarity or a decrease in laziness. I simply thought the beard ritual was something that would be better suited for writing the novel.
So, the day I start writing the novel will be the last day I shave until I finish with at least the first draft. I am guessing I will begin writing today or Wednesday. It depends on which day I finish writing all the blog posts for this week (and after I'm finished with this one, I'll only have the Friday post to write).
Ritual #2: The Quiet Man
While I usually refer to myself as "Mick," my full first name is actually Michileen. My parents got the name from Barry Fitzgerald's character Michaleen Oge Flynn in the 1952 film The Quiet Man. I have never seen the film myself; only bits and pieces.
I recently made the acquaintance of two guys through my blog - Eric Newsom and Kevin Marshall. We've been discussing the possibility of doing an online project together and hopefully I'll have more to say about that in the not-too-distant future.
When Eric friended me on Facebook he mentioned, without knowing the origin of my name, that I shared a first name with one of his all-time favorite movie characters. When I told him that's actually where my parents got the idea for my name, Eric and Kevin both thought that was pretty cool and urged me to finally watch the thing.
Since, like writing a novel, watching The Quiet Man is something I've meant to do for a very long time, when I finish writing the first draft of my book I will finally watch The Quiet Man and meet my namesake.
So if you notice that on my blog or any other social media sites I'm on that I've posted something like "I've shaved my beard" or "About to watch Quiet Man," you'll know what I mean.
P.S. While I will not shave until I've finished the novel, I reserve the right to trim.
Well, I'm not sure how well The Quiet Man holds up, but then I last saw it after being shanghaied to the Biltmore against my will, so my sourness at the situation may have coloured my regard.
Have I mentioned Write or Die to you before? Some people I know find it helpful.
Remind me sometime to give you a copy of Octavia Butler's "Furor Scribendi" -- her advice on writing can be boiled down to "persist" and that's what you're doing. Keep doing it. And whatever you do, don't read this, because if you've got the madness in you, nothing else matters.
Thanks Kate! I'd never heard of Write or Die before. That sounds...masochistic.
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