Writing a Novel

“So, yeah, I’m working on a novel.”

I feel like these are words no one wants to hear. Up there with someone explaining their March Madness bracket to you in detail. Their new diet. The suggestion of some TV show—followed by a detailed account of said TV show’s plot.

Thanks, but I don’t care. How do we live in a world where you don’t know that I don’t care? Or do you know that and just choose to speak at me anyway? I truly hope it’s the latter.

Save my close friends, and even then it’s pushing it, my mind will usually turn off during subjects like the ones listed above. It feels harsh, and maybe it is selfish of me to act that way, but I can’t help it. If someone were to do the same to me, I’d understand. In fact, I’d encourage it, accompanied by a friendly punch to the face for making the conversation a poor one. Life’s too short for bad conversations.

I have digressed a little. The fact of the matter is that I am working on a novel, and, although I am usually of the mindset of talking about myself as little as possible, it is something that I told my friends that I was doing. The offer to join me along the way while I work on it was extended to my close friends, and some have taken it up and helped me edit what I’ve thrown at them. A few professors have been kind enough to have a crack at the manuscript too, and it has all culminated into some top notch advice and differing perspectives.

Given that I probably started working on it about three years ago, clearly on-and-very-often-off, it has become part of my identity in a way. I find myself frequently daydreaming about it. Rereading sections that I’ve already read 50 times. Reflecting on my past experiences to see how I can incorporate them in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. In a sense, it has become a hobby that I can carry with me at all times, even when I may just appear to be staring off into the distance, there’s a good chance my mind could be on the book.

The novel itself, as I’ve told just about everyone who asks, is foremost a place to get my thoughts on paper. It focuses on a character that isn’t too different from me, but he isn’t all that different from a Raskolnikov, Sorel, or a Werther either. That has been the beauty of reading literature these past few years while trying to write my own—it seems to validate that other writers featured characters with similar quandaries. It’s also revealed how much better I can get. I think that will be part of the beauty of what this blog could become: evidence of progression.

I guess it just wouldn’t make much sense not mentioning this on The Aardvark as it is very much a part of who I am. As we eat at our ants here, so to speak, the novel allows me to do so in a fictional setting. It’s a conversation with myself, and others can peer in if they’d like. Offer up ways to make the conversation better.

Where it goes, I really don’t know. It’s just been cool to have a place to throw some of my deeper thoughts, my longings, my questions, things I really don’t even know how to best articulate. It’s become a melting pot with a plot. It’s been fun and very difficult to cook up. I hope it tastes good in the end, but even if it flops I can always say that the process helped contribute to a more enriching existence.

Writing a novel altogether feels like a continuous battle yielding spells of liberation along the way. It feels like a battle that’s going to remain necessary as the years go on.

I can say what I struggle to say.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. stevenconradbair says:

    I appreciate this article, being in the same boat myself. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Patrick Baga says:

      Thanks Steven – I think there’s more of us out there than we ever fully realize. Best of luck to you!

      Like

  2. The novel as hobby. That’s both an inviting and a depressing concept, and one to ponder. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Patrick Baga says:

      I’ve had the very same thought. In one sense inviting since it really does keep me from ever being bored/feeling stagnated but then again the feeling of it being depressing/overpowering in a way that it’s larger than [my] life has its days where it gets the upper hand. Got a couple other hobbies but definitely on days where it dominates I can’t help thinking I should adopt a few more. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. fatimah says:

    TOO good! Every detail in this post resonated. You’ve articulated it better than I ever could — sometimes I fear that my attachment to my stories becomes an addiction that I can’t continue without. Whilst in the process of writing, all I want to do is finish, but once it is over, all I want to do is begin again. We speak our struggles even when they have to do with the process of struggling itself! Thanks for this post! This blog is way too good.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Patrick Baga says:

    Thanks so much for your awesome comment and kind words! Addiction is the perfect way to describe this sort of attachment we develop, and as you note the withdrawal kicks in right after we’ve completed something (when we thought completion would deliver us some serenity, finally!) Great in the sense that it keeps us churning out more stuff and continuing to learn about ourselves and all that, but at the same time we can’t help but think they’re might be a healthier way to go about it. Attachment in general is a fascinating concept for me – what’s the right level? None? All in? Somewhere in between? The greatest thinkers and doctrines seem so divided on the issue with the end goal always being some sense of fulfillment. Still trying to figure it out over here!

    Glad you’re enjoying the blog, you’re the kind of audience we’re looking for!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. fatimah says:

    The concept of attachment is a psychologist’s guilty pleasure! What a thing to think about, indeed. If our attitudes only efficiently change when our behavior does, would us releasing from our attachment make us believe that it was never worth our time, or that it doesn’t allow us to express as much as it does? I don’t know, and your absolutely right about the whole level conundrum! Especially when it comes to an attachment as abstract as picking up a pencil and writing a few words down on a piece of paper, who knows what the right tool of measurement is?
    Thanks for your thought-provoking comments.

    Liked by 1 person

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