Writing, for me, will never be a straightforward process. I’m realizing this lately. I’ve reached a stage in The Book whereby everything about the project disgusts and repels me. Even a single sentence has the power to fill me with so much doubt that I tell the Man, calmly and confidently, that I’m thinking of just giving it up altogether. I’ve become a Queen of Melodrama (“where are you going?” I cry when he gets out of bed, puts his trousers on, and heads downstairs). Mostly what I think to myself when I sit down to do some work on the wretched project is: I wish I was writing something simpler. My next book will definitely be a novel. No more genre-crossing, mind-bending, intertextual nonsense.
Then I remember that even if I was writing a straightforward novel, I would be struggling just as much. I do have one, hidden in a folder on my computer somewhere. I’ve never written a single bit of it in a logical way; it’s all bits and pieces, tied together by the tenuous string of a single character. And every few months I decide to make a massive change to the entire premise. Which means that though I’ve been thinking about the book for years, I may as well have cooked up the idea yesterday.
On days filled with denial, I like to think that it’s anxiety that makes me like this, that if I had a steady income, a stronger foothold in the literary world, I would be able to sit down with my laptop on a Saturday afternoon like today, listen to the wind and the rain and the overgrown tree in our front yard lashing against the window, and push forward. But I’m inherently doubtful and inherently scattered in my thinking. That, in many ways, is the whole premise of this book. And it’s not a bad thing. So remind me, will you, next time I say something in a telenovela-worthy tone of voice, like, “that’s it, I’m starting over, this just isn’t working,” that my process isn’t any better or worse than anyone else’s. It’s just mine.