Bender pondered the wine in his hand. “A writer needs four things to achieve greatness, Pasquale: desire, disappointment, and the sea.”
“That’s only three.”
Alvis finished his wine. “You have to do disappointment twice.”
I share this passage from Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, not because I believe it to be the absolute truth (I don’t), but rather because when I read it, I believed the character Alvis was actually talking to me.
While I accomplished three writing goals in 2013 that I am very proud of – I put a ribbon on a novel, finished the first draft of another, and reached 200 blog posts – I must confess that I will leave this year with a sense of disappointment.
Candidly, I’ve realized that the ribbon I put on my first book was premature. I knew I had more work to do, I just hadn’t realized how much more. The disappointment stems, not from the early mornings the “more” will require, but rather from a lack of closure when, in 2014, all I really want to do is move on – write other stories, cut new ribbons.
Deep down, I know the only way to move on is to finish my first book, the right way: to write like nobody’s reading. I need to trust the lessons I’ve learned, and allow my words to fall onto the page. I’ll know when it’s done, just like I knew when it wasn’t. And when it is done, I’ll need to let it be, whether that’s cause for a second round of disappointment shouldn’t really matter.
I also need to allow myself to enjoy the year’s accomplishments, which I intend to do tonight with a Zin as big as the glass it’s in (that’s big).
I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to tell stories, and in 2014 I plan to allow myself the privilege. To do that, I’m prepared to dedicate myself to the path and walk heavy footed to wherever it may go. And that brings me back to Alvis – I think he missed something critical in all this: family and friends.
There would be no greatness to strive towards, disappointment to share, or desire to formulate, without my family and friends. They make it all worth it. With that, thank you all, for supporting me on this long journey – by reading and commenting on my posts, by asking about “that book” I’ve been talking about for years, now, and by simply being there for me when I needed you the most.
May 2014 bring you happiness and the right words – some of which, hopefully, provided by me.
Categories: Confession, Creative Writing, Fiction, Life, Observation
This is timely for me – I’m editing the first draft of my book, and I had hoped to finish it by the end of last year..but it seems it will take longer. I agree that you just know when it’s finished and when it’s not. I have a lot of pressure from others around me to ‘get my book out there’ but I don’t want to put it out there when it’s not as good as it could be. Thanks for the encouragement. And thanks for liking my blog post 🙂 Good to find your blog.
In advance, an apology for my verbosity. Brevity yearns to play, yet the wind in my bag blows me elsewhere. 🙂
First (though not most important), I must acknowledge your grape preference. Fondness and Zin are kindred in my world. Do enjoy.
To the essence of your post, you do know you are among the majority, yes? So often we struggle to complete what, in our mind, is what we set out to yield, only to acknowledge (submit?) to the reality that it is not. Where you pour life into your writing, I do similarly with my competitive, public speaking. With another annual contest looming, I am pulling what hair I don’t possess out of my scalp. (This is when and where the Zin helps.) In ‘my’ arena, I have to speak to what my audience wants to hear; not what I so very much want to share. Polar opposites re: my desire.
You are a very talented writer, Dominic. To your statement, “…to write like nobody’s reading.” prompts me to share a post I wrote before we began following each other’s blog. I hope you don’t mind my linking it here as it is solely intended to align/proffer some clarity to your writing challenges. I will certainly understand if you’d rather not approve the comment due to the link.
Thank you for your writing and congratulations on your year of literary progress and personal growth! I wish you much more of both in 2014.
Thank you, Eric. As usual your comment was full of wit, support, and practical advice – (advice? Perhaps that isn’t the right word, maybe encouragement/experience/offering?) Thank you, again, for continuing to support me on this journey.
I am so happy that you provided a link to your post, which did pre-date my following your blog. It is an amazing piece and I am grateful for you sharing it. I have never thought of my life, work, or relationships as binary in this way: as either attachments or connections. What really worked for me was the association that attachments generally drain a person’s energy while connections tend to fuel it. I think you were right to pull the line re: write like nobody is reading from my post. That is the crux of it.
Writing is a connection for me. It fulfills both ambition and creative curiosity (what do I want from writing and what am I capable of?), while the same time it provides therapy and the opportunity for reflection. To draw on your post – writing is indeed part of my life, it’s already there. I enjoy it. In fact, I want to say I thrive by it in my own way. That I’m writing alone (i.e., not published) does not take away from what I get out of it. Where the attachment sneaks in, I’m afraid, is when I attempt to answer the question – what do I want from it? What do I want to do with all of these words? I want to publish novels, is the short answer – I really do – but for what reason? I’ll take your post and reread it, and ensure the answer to that question is an honest one (I am happy to say, I believe it is – my dreams to share stories – okay to publish novels – is not one based in perceived success and what comes with it (just ask the ranks of published authors that maintain their day jobs), but rather the fulfillment of a purpose that I know to exist: I am supposed to write stories that folks can chose to read or utterly ignore.
Every action has an opposite and equal reaction, was once posited. Mine is not opposite, but react —absolutely, viscerally, emotionally and sometimes spiritually. Keep them coming.
A comment from my dad (via Facebook)! Love it!
It’s never finished, is it? But thankfully, you have the support of family and friends. I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now–pursuing my dream of writing fiction full time–without the absolute confidence and support of my husband. Tis a wonderful thing, it is.
Wonderful is exactly what it is! I feel so grateful for the support I have, I only hope that I can repay the favor by putting every spare minute and extra ounce of brain capital I have into writing, and by hopefully one day making everyone proud to be part of this incredible journey. I think 2014 is going to be a great year – wishing you the absolute best! Thank you for continuing to support me, it’s the fuel that keeps me going!
I am looking forward to your book in a big way, my friend. Happy New Year!
Thank you Mr. #1 on Amazon! Likewise, looking forward to your sophomore release (and other pieces)! That and the playoffs…
Cheers! It’s amazing how popular one can become when they are FREE. Second book coming along…first draft to be done by April, but hopefully a few short pieces will get published soon.
I would have ‘liked’ this post but that part of the page won’t stop loading. I even reloaded the page to see if that would fix it. Nope, it’s stuck. It isn’t your blog though because I’ve seen this on other blogs too. It’s WP having problems.
Polishing a book/story can seem so time-consuming. My heart goes out to you.
Have a glass of wine for me too. I can’t drink the stuff. It makes my sick within two hours. 😦
Thank you! I’m not sure what is going on with WordPress, but I’m happy to have the comment instead 🙂
Yes, it’s grueling. More than anything, it’s just the volume (and my book isn’t even that long at @ 80,000 words). Well that and making it all work!
Thank you for taking the time to comment and for your support – much appreciated! Happy New Year to you and yours.
Fancy how I JUST READ ABOUT THAT LAST NIGHT from the book “Beautiful Ruins” which I’ve really been reading since summertime. I thought I need to finish this book, which I’ve enjoyed but haven’t spent the time – you get that I’m sure – Anyway I was moved to your blog this evening and I’m so glad I was – it’s like no time has passed in-between – Happy New Year Dominic – you are a very talented writer with a beautiful family and I can’t way to see more.
(that’s Geo’s Mary from MN)
Mary!!! Thank you! Yes, I totally know what you mean. I still have a few chapters of Beautiful Ruins waiting in the balance and I just can’t seem to get to them. What did you think of the book, overall?
You are way too nice :). I have really enjoyed this relatively new found passion for writing- at the same time I know there is so much to learn. I suppose that is what I like about it! Happy New Year!!! When are you guys coming to visit?
HI – I finally got back to visiting your blog, AND and I finally finished the book and really liked it. I liked the ending. I’m sure you have finished by now too. I do miss you all – and I’ll continue to visit you through your writing (which I LOVE) and pictures and other family postings of life out west (I feel so privliged to see). Geo and I are coming to San Fran in Sept this year!! I will be in touch about it. Luca should be prime Leech Lake time now – It’s so much fun with the CA relatives along! just sayin….
Hi Mary!!! I am so happy you enjoyed the book – my Dad and Uncle Jim are now reading it, too. It SO makes my day that you enjoy my reading – honestly, support from my family means the world to me. This whole thing is, at times, really daunting. You know – putting your words out there and calling yourself an author. People can smell BS from a mile away, so it really keeps me striving to succeed so that I can say – see, told ya so ya haters!!!! Yes, Luca is indeed primed for Leach Lake. I’ve primed the discussion with my other half…love you Mary, miss you guys. Why don’t you and Geo come out to SF for a visit? We could do wine country…I’m just saying..
We are!! we are coming to SF the beginning of Sept! we will be out there for a commencement type conference for something Geo will have earned with his work. Hopefully we can extend the trip a few days to visit you guys and do some other things around there – I’ll keep in touch about the timing and other details when we know for sure we are going (he has one more test to pass). It’s a hard time of the year to be gone with Nicole just have starting a new school year but we just HAVE to make something work, we will be right there. Talk to you later and keep writing!
Wow 2013 was a good year for eternal Domnation! I think you’re right in feeling that truly finishing your first novel will be the only way to really “let it be,” but I do believe that there can be a lot of good accomplished from pursuing new endeavors until you’re ready to come back to it. Excited to see what 2014 brings to your portfolio!
Thank you Tay! Yea, I totally agree. Reality is I haven’t really touched Rolling for Coal since last April, and now having written another first draft of a very different type of novel (think thriller, with Michael Jackson singing it) I know I can approach the rewrite with a very different t set of eyes! I really appreciate your support, means the world to me.
Congrats on achieving your goals, may 2014 be full of accomplishment for you Dominic! What you said of family and friends, I believe is correct.
Thank you, much appreciated! Same to you, happy New Year!!!
Dominic – my like button doesn’t seem to be working so I’ll leave a comment. Take it as a like! Have a wondrously productive 2014!
Thank you, Bruce! I really appreciate it, same to you! Happy New Year and happy writing!!!