I am pleased to welcome Rainbow Rowell to Great Thoughts’ Great Authors. (Don’t you adore her name?) You will adore her book too- Attachments. Set in the Y2K-phobic days of 1999, Journalists Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder, best friends and coworkers at The Courier, have a lot going on in their social lives, and they certainly don’t mind sharing it with each other at work. Naturally, the women’s emails often end up in Lincoln’s inbox, whose job is to monitor other people’s email. Needless to say- that’s not always a good thing!
I have been writing a newspaper column since I was 16 years old — so the idea of writing wasn’t that intimidating to me. It’s kind of nice working for a newspaper; we can’t even comprehend writer’s block. Writer’s block is a luxury we can’t afford. We have deadlines and we meet them, day after day.
But writing a novel … that’s something different. The first thing that needs comprehension is the sheer number of words involved. Newspaper writers think in inches; novelists think in words. When I would think about the number of words in a novel — 70 thousand, 100 thousand — I would get this feeling of vertigo. Like, how do you even hold that many words in your brain?
For me, writing a novel was like wading out into a river. There were times when I felt completely over my head — but those were the times when I got the most done. It felt like I couldn’t make any progress unless I was completely immersed in the story.
And once I was standing in the middle of all those words, I didn’t want to come back to shore. (To go to work. To clean the house. To hang out with friends.) I’d feel like I had to work on the novel every day, just to stay in the thick of it.
When I had about 50 thousand words written, it was really intimidating. Really dizzying. At that point I felt like the novel had its own currents — almost like it was too big for me to control. But I kept telling myself that I may as well push through and try to make it to the other shore (that felt closer than turning back). Just keep writing.
Now that I’ve written three novels (my second book, Eleanor & Park, is scheduled for release next year), I’m used to the vertigo. Now, when I feel totally overcome by a story — when I feel like I’ve gotten the characters into a situation, and I can’t see the way through — I just keep writing.
Keep moving forward. Keep trying. If you don’t quit, you don’t drown.Pin It