Last summer, I published my first-ever blog post. The blogging world was fast and exciting. It was new to me. And maybe even a little bit scary. (Publishing with the click of a button? Downright terrifying. And kind of awesome.)
At the onset, I posted regularly. Not compulsively, but at least once a week. (I didn’t want to be one of those inconsistent, unreliable bloggers.) School days came around again in August, and I managed to keep up that pace until November, when I focused my writing efforts on NaNoWriMo to get reacquainted with my fiction. December became a three-way competition in those early morning hours: grading papers against blog writing against novel writing. In February, I added a new blog to the fight. And the novel writing became my reward. After the paper-grading. After the first-blog-posting. After the second-blog-posting. “If I just get all of this finished, I can get to work . . . ”
The blog became another obligation. A kind of burden. Another thing that got in the way of me doing what I wanted to be doing. Blogging kept me from writing.
Seven years ago last March, I finished writing my first novel. (Yes, I know. You’re supposed to write your first novel and then hide it under your bed forever. You’re never supposed to actually attempt to publish your first novel.) Less than a week later, my first child was born. That summer, while she napped, I queried. I received a personal letter from FSG (when they still accepted unsolicited manuscripts), requesting to see more of my work in the future, which I guess was a bigger deal that I thought it was at the time. But I was a new mother. I went back to work; the writing time dwindled and sometimes even disappeared.
Over these last seven years, we’ve evolved. Together. I’m middle-aged. A mother of three. The book has kept only the setting from its original form. Its protagonist is still young and female, but nothing like its first young female protagonist. After these years of the on-again-off-again relationship, it’s time we got back together. And while the blogs have spiced things up a bit as a source of instant gratification, I am ready for a long-term commitment.
Because what I’ve realized is that, for me, it’s about the work. I don’t write for publication or for notoriety. Perhaps I did at one time, but not now. Now I write because I have to. I don’t claim to think that mine is the Great American Novel or some kind of New York Times bestseller. But I believe in it enough to think that it warrants being written. That’s the work, after all. The life work. I don’t think I’m too concerned with whether or not anyone wants to read it. (Except for my friend Karen. I’d like for Karen to read it.)
I’m not saying I want to turn my “online presence” into a Salinger-esque style of reclusivity (though I do think there is something to be said for going forty-five years without publishing and still writing every day), but I wouldn’t mind retreating a bit. Perhaps we (the blogs and I) just need to start seeing less of each other. Perhaps we need some space.
It’s time for the novel to come first.