Oh, the number of times I started to write a novel! The first was in college in Terry Davis’ fiction writing class. The second attempt came in my late 20s in Orson Scott Card’s workshops and then in my mid-30s. Let’s not forget the stabs at it I took in my 40s.
I was trained by great and inspiring teachers who actually wrote for the same market that beckoned me. I had desire and plenty of stories. Nonetheless, the task of actually penning an entire novel’s worth of pages proved too daunting. I tried to appease my inner writer by composing the occasional poem or short story and went on with my life deftly ignoring the itch in my soul to do more.
They say insanity is repeating the same behavior over and over while expecting a different result. Color me mad, because that’s exactly what I did every time I started a novel. I typically wrote somewhere between 60 and 80 pages and then got bogged down in relentless, perfectionistic re-writing and editing. The 80-page limit seemed to be some kind of magic number at which the inner, ever critical editor arose from the depths of my psyche and started the endless cycle of polishing and re-polishing every sentence on every page until I grew too muddled to move forward.
A war of the worlds waged on through the years between my right brain and my left brain. Right brain loved to pour the words onto the page infusing them with the essence of my creative spirit. Left brain, which had gained control in order to get good grades and approval in school, took an odd pleasure at judging what right brain so lovingly disseminated. And so it went for years until at last the story itself could wait no longer. More on that next time!
~ Diana Henderson