"You should write a novel."
I heard those words too many times last summer. My response never changed. It was an emphatic, "No!" I had recently started my blog. Week after week I regaled readers with tales of The Idiot Who Made Me Cry, Satan's Henchman, Chesty LaRue, and my personal musings on the perfect way to stalk a man, music video chicks, and Broke Ass Niggas. Writing a 1000 word essay two to three days a week was one thing, but a novel was a completely different beast. A beast I had no inclination to tame. Constructing characters, conflicts, plot twists, a climax, and more would require large amounts of effort. Effort has never agreed with me. The writing bug had definitely bit, but I was determined to be a columnist, not a novelist. I was thinking Carrie Bradshaw, not Charlotte Bronte.
In late August the itch to find a new career blossomed into an all out obsession. I took one of my cousins up on an offer to help with my resume. Immediately, we hit a snag when I had no idea what my new career objective should be. In wading through my interests, I brought up my renewed love of writing. In order to give him an idea of the type of writing I wanted to do in my next career incarnation, I sent my cousin the link to my blog. Several weeks later, we met in my grandmother's living room to discuss job objectives, qualifications, work history, and skills. However, before that process could begin my cousin had something to tell me.
"You have to write a novel," he commanded.
Just like every other time the suggestion had been made, I begged off, informing him that I don't do novel writing. Unfortunately for me, my cousin is pitbull. Once he latches onto something he won't let it go.
"Look, I'll give you the plot, you just have to write it," he assured me.
Hmmm, that would be one step out of the way. He kept talking, I listened. Maybe it was his enthusiasm, maybe it was peer pressure, maybe it was sheer madness, but suddenly crafting a novel didn't sound as daunting as it once did. That afternoon, I agreed to give it a shot.
I arrived back in Michigan motivated to write the first chapter. It took me a week and the moment I was done I emailed copies to my cousin, Chesty LaRue, Jailbait, and others. I needed feedback. How was the storytelling? Did the characters have life? Was it enough to make them keep reading? The response was overwhelmingly positive. I wrote Chapter 2 the next week and sent it off to them as well. They liked it, they really liked it.
Something in me clicked and the story and characters took on lives of their own inside my head. Even when I was nowhere near a computer I was writing. Between September and February I cranked out nine chapters in over 150 pages. In those sheets of paper, a woman named Renee came to life. Her issues with family, friends, career, and love played out before my eyes. Then one day in late February, her life stopped, not because there was nothing to tell, but because I had no idea how I wanted to tell it. I didn't know how the rest should sound, and at this moment I still don't.
In the last three months, I've thought about Renee, her family, friends, and men over and over again. But I can't seem to reach out and touch them, make them come alive again. The motivation that fueled me in the beginning is gone and the fumes haven't been enough to get me going again. I refuse to give up on telling the rest of this saga. I feel like I owe it to the people who have been reading along since Chapter 1. I owe it to my characters. But most of all, I owe it to myself.