It has been along time since I have done a “Writing in Valencia” post. I am guessing you know why and have been too kind to say. It means that I haven’t been writing the novel. I suppose I could have done another “not writing in Valencia” post only I felt a little shame at failing to stick to my novel writing plan and I wasn’t ready to admit defeat to you even though I had admitted it to myself weeks ago.
Let me sum up in a few words what I learned from my attempt at novel writing:I really don’t want to write a novel. I wish it were otherwise. I still and always will believe that novel writing takes more creativity than personal essay, creative non-fiction and/or memoir. I suppose I believe that because it comes easier for me to write non-fiction and what is hard has to be better (must remember to talk to Igor about that ). The strange thing about my idealization of fiction is that almost all I read is non-fiction and I have to literally force myself to read a novel. Forcing is always involved in the writing and the reading.
So, I am back and I am not only writing but I am starting to put together a query letter and sample chapters for my memoir, “Thursdays with Igor.” I am excited and simultaneously terrified to enter the world of queries, agents and rejection again. This time I am approaching it with an entirely different attitude. My new attitude did not come from the misery of me trying and failing to write a novel but rather thanks to my endlessly supportive and encouraging friend, Kirie, who suggested I read Malcolm Gladwell’s new book “Outliers”.
“Outliers” is a fascinating book and definitely worth a read if you are interested in the science of success. However, if you would prefer the extreme Cliff notes of what I got from his book it is that, according to Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours to be a genius at anything. He uses for examples of his argument the Beatles and Bill Gates. He shows how both of these household names had opportunities to put in more time and practice hours than others in their field. This may be true or not, I have neither the inclination or the time to assess his research. I prefer to assume it is true for the sake of my sanity and self-esteem.
I imagine that I have spent about 5000 hours writing. It is my conservative estimate that I am now spending about 30 hours a week writing for the blog and for my memoir. That means in a year I will spend 1560 hours writing and, according to Gladwell, in just 3.21 years I will be a writing genius. Now, no need to warn me that this may not be true. I don’t care. I care that this idea frees me to think I don’t have to publish this year. It gives me the freedom to keep writing, come what may, for the next 35 months. In 35 months, if I keep this up, my writing will be better. I know that to be true. I know that in writing a blog for almost two years that my writing has improved,a lot. Just go back to the first six months of this blog to see for yourself. On second thought, don’t; just trust me.
I hope that it doesn’t take 10,000 hours to learn to write a great query letter or 10,000 more hours to find an agent. For today I am not going to worry about that. Today all I really care about is accruing hours and writing my way to better writing. Today I clocked six hours. Only 4994 hours to go.