on blogging an answer to "why write a novel? Why write a novel now?"

I haven’t been blogging here much, but yesterday I was a guest blogger on the Cabell First Novelist blog.

I’m writing a novel, as part of a year-long writing workshop at VCU.  Most of the other writers in the group are in the MFA fiction grad program, so I’m in great company.

Hard not to get discouraged, since they are concentrating on fiction as a full-time grad degree and their writing submissions frequently blow me away.  I have to remember that my path is different.   I’m getting a PhD in Media, Art, and Text – an interdisciplinary degree with a focus on media and technology.   I’m working on a novel and a dissertation at the same time, as well as an oral history project that is both part of my dissertation and a separate entity.  Three huge projects at one time – hence the title of my guest submission “I might be crazy.”

Cabell First Novelist Blog guest entry

My guest entry is more personal than I usually get in a blog.  That’s one reason I’ve taken a break here – how personal a blogger do I want to be?  But I felt, as a guest blogger for the Cabell First Novelist blog, that the call was to answer the question – why write a novel at all and why write one now?

My answer … I’m in training as a “distance” writer, learning the pace of a longer form.  I’m also getting the social support of the workshop.

The truth is, I can go the distance – write a full-length, unified work – I already have a great deal of discipline and stamina.  I wrote a successful collection of lyric essays for my master’s thesis.  I’m plugging through this PhD.  If I have to write 1500 words a day, I can.

It’s my inner life that’s unruly.  How I feel about my work.   How I deal with the demon self-doubt.  It helps to talk with other writers, who say they also feel an emotional backlash when a submission goes out or a workshop rotation comes due.  The validation helps – it’s as if I’m building immunity to a disease.  

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