Where Did My Novel Go?

I went back to school. Whoops!

Where is my novel? Not in my head. In notebooks. On one computer. In binders and binders (some I have vacated for use in school). I didn’t quite lose my novel, but where is it, exactly, if I’m not writing it?

This year my novel might exist on bus rides. It might exist in old documents, revised, or simply reread. It might exist in my head over night. But I’m so scared for it. Where is it right now?

I’ve lost the feeling of my novel. I sat down for a set forty minutes on Thursday night. I opened the folder where it should be and the document I last touched. I sat there staring at the words, unsure where they came from. A novel is a thing that exists because of a time and a space and it depends on other things around it: the middle on the end and the beginning. If I’m not sure where I am in my novel because my head is elsewhere and my novel’s here, how will it ever advance?

I was in school two years ago when this novel already existed. It hadn’t yet been written, but first chapters had been formed and reformed and I knew my characters (I thought some characters were going to die in car crashes at that time). In any case, the novel existed, and I actually worked on it while in school. I sat and wrote small notes to myself in class. I sectioned them off from important class notes with backwards slashes: /The party is actually a high school reunion.

I loved doing this. I let sitting in class be a form of meditation. I listened for a while, and instead of drifting off into neurosis about upcoming assignments or into other neuroses about having left a hair straightener on at home, I drifted off into my creative brain. I let school feed my creativity by running from it toward something good.

But I wanted to approach this year differently. I took a year off from school in which I wrote full time (full time meaning writing was the thing I did; working was part time). I became a writer – someone who wrote every day. This was so much apart of my identity that I couldn’t see it changing this year. It actually couldn’t change, or else I would change.

So here I am. I am writing a blog post, so that’s writing. I’m thinking about how my novel is lost in time-space, so at least that’s some form of concern for my writing, if not an attempt at doing the task then an acknowledgment, at least, that the task exists and is important. I’m scared I’ll lose this identity I’ve created. It’s easy to pencil in writing time (it isn’t, I haven’t tried that yet), but how easy will it be when assignments are piling up and I’m just so tired?

I feel compelled to do some kind of vow here, in front of my audience of a few people. Here it is: I am a writer; I just sometimes go back to school.

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