Just a few minutes ago, I finished reading After You by Julie Buxbaum. I read her first novel, The Opposite of Love, several months ago, and upon finishing it, I rushed to the bookstore in hopes of finding another book of hers. Now that I am done reading both novels I feel almost empty. The end of a novel, a really good novel, is the sweetest and most bittersweet moment.
For a week, my world collided with the world written of in After You. I felt what the characters felt, lived their lives alongside them. I ached when I wasn't reading, as I always do, because I so desperately want to return to their world. That's what a novel is meant to do. It's what I feel the first draft of my novel lacked and what I hope this next draft will provide.
Sometimes reading other novels helps to inspire my writing. Other times, reading makes me wonder why I try - thinking my words will never provide the sort of escape that others have provided me. But I remember, sometimes by my husband reminding me and sometimes by the little voice inside of me, that every writer and every story is different. It's not that my words need to be as good as or better than those of another writer's. What I need is to remain true to the character, to remain true to the story, and to remain true to myself - the author that the story chose.
I was able to take off half a day of work today. We've had structural engineers and foundation companies at our house, in an attempt to figure out what exactly to do with our situation. It was a much needed break, a chance to just be at home on a weekday with my husband. We watched Hawaii Five-0 together, ate lunch, and then enjoyed being under the same roof for the afternoon. He napped, and I wrote and read. It was amazing.
These are things we often do on the weekends, but for some reason, they felt more special, more important on this average Tuesday. And I think that's what I want so desperately for my writing. I want to take the things that are often seen as normal and remind others of how special and important they can be.
In college, I was taught that there is a formula for every genre of writing. I was taught that often one has to follow the formula the first time around with writing. While I flirted with (and sometimes still flirt with) the idea of nursing school, I was never particularly good at math or science - which is why I dropped nursing after barely passing chemistry and dropping out of anatomy and physiology. To be honest, I don't know what genre I am writing, which means I am unsure of the prescribed formula. It could be that I am adding in all the necessary ingredients in the correct order, or it could be that I am adding a dash too much of that and too little of this.
But I don't think it really matters. Because regardless of the formula, there is a story to be told. The characters are turning into people I care about, and the emotions, which in many ways mirror emotions I waded through years ago, are real. And these characters and emotions have somehow chosen me to be the storyteller. Hopefully, I won't let them down.
(title from "it ends tonight" by the all-american rejects)