Sunday, June 29, 2008

Long-Distance Swimming

One of the results of writing a novel versus writing a short story is that, aside from the loneliness of the extended stretches of time that you work on your own, you begin to take--by necessity--a longer view of the process.

You can't look to finishing your novel as a form of gratification because the end is too far away. But you can reach a certain number of words or pages each day. You can celebrate crafting a chapter or a scene or a paragraph or a sentence.

Small things add up to larger things over time.

Still, it's easy to lose sight of the long view and forget the goal.

It's easy, too, to mistake the loneliness and silence that accompany the long stretches of isolation as indifference, disdain, and dislike for your work when, really, it's only silence... and, perhaps, your own negative feelings rising to the surface.

Inner critics.

Negative voices.

These critical voices often reflect the belief that unless you have something to show for your effort, the effort itself is worthless.

These are the times when you need to pause and re-examine your goals.

Look up from your desk to double-check the longitude and latitude of where you are in the process.

Sometimes the only way to drown out these voices, these feelings, is to put your head back in the water and keep swimming toward the opposite shore that you set out to reach weeks or months or years before.

But I can't help wonder what it is that keeps you going.

Is it curiosity... or something else... that sustains you over the long distance swim of a novel?

When you get a chance, write and let us know how you manage to swim long distances.

For more on overcoming the obstacles to long-distance swimming, visit:

No comments: