The Great Inner Debate of a Novelist: To Write or Not to Write

I constantly wondered where to start. If I even should start, or, more importantly, finish. The self-defeating, self-sabotaging question that banged around in my brain for years prevented me from really finishing the thing: “Why would anyone want to read this?” I’d ask. For a while I allowed it to deplete my motivation and steer me off track, but eventually, I came to realize that in order to accomplish one of the greater professional goals I’d set for myself way back when I was in college, I’d have to push through the chatter and get beyond the negativity. And the only way to do that was to put pen to paper, and push that instead. So in other words, simply write.

write janice lombardo
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There were so many distractions (excuses), and for many years. Some were legit like, needing to be present for my kids. Of course there were some not so legit, like, you know, as if just not feeling productive or in the mood counted. I knew these were created with the singular goal of avoiding facing the page. Obviously, there were (enough) spurts of inspiration that propelled me forward to add more words to the manuscript, writing some on a Monday, then some more on a Tuesday and Wednesday. But then I wouldn’t go back and write for a week, and oftentimes longer than that. The kids, now both in college, no longer provided me with any real good reason to procrastinate any longer.

I finally (and thankfully) got to a point where I was ready to ask myself — and answer with truth and honesty — the other question that I couldn’t run away from anymore: If I didn’t complete this book now, when was I going to? It’s not like I was getting any younger; 50 was staring me in the face and I was hearing fewer and fewer stories of people of a certain age publishing their first novel. I was also determined to move away from the feeling of always having a homework assignment due, the gotta-write-that-paper feeling constantly hanging over me. All those words and images constantly swirling about, ready to be released from my imagination and written down so others can see too, was a goal I had to commit to. And I ultimately did.

I gave myself a non-negotiable end date and hired a very capable editor who provided valuable input and much-needed suggestions that worked to improve the characters’ development and embellish the story arc. On the heels of a painful divorce, experiencing the proverbial empty nest and moving into a stage of my life when my free time was for the first time truly free, I finished the book. Now in the midst of shopping around for a literary agent to represent me, it’s funny/not funny to learn that I still have part of the homework assignment lingering. I know finishing the book was in reality the easy part. This next leg of the tour is where the work really begins.

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