On Monday, I sat down at my normal weekly writing workshop time. My goal was to write at least 1,000 words of my book Delaney Unlaced, and to work in this past week’s #wordbound prompt.
The prompt was: There is a door. It is closed.
This week most of my writing buddies were either out of town or home sick, so I ended up not going to the coffee shop we usually meet at. I instead opted to get my writing time in while sitting in the comfort of my own bed… but that’s not what happened. It should have been an easy scene to write, since I was at a part where Delaney fights with her mom through a closed door. Simple use of the prompt.
But the words wouldn’t come, and I was frustrated about political stuff I had read on Facebook, so I gave myself the night off. “I’ll write on Tuesday,” I told myself.
Tuesday rolled around, and I had a few other errands I also needed to accomplish that evening. I needed to sign up for new car insurance. I needed to unpack my suitcase from a trip I’d gone on nearly a week prior. I had to get some financial paperwork in order.
Guys, I did all those things before I even attempted to write. I know that procrastinating writing is a common dance for writers, but car insurance? Nothing is less thrilling than car insurance.
I was tired, and it was late, so I let myself go to bed without writing.
This morning, when I was posting the new prompt for the week, I had to really stop and ask myself what happened. Why, when I only invented this whole concept a little over a month ago, was I having so much trouble being #wordbound?
But then it hit me. I wasn’t having trouble writing. I was having trouble writing Delaney.
Last week, the short story that I wrote flew from my fingertips. But every time I sit down to work on Delaney, everything just feels wrong, hollow, empty.
I tried to think about the last time I felt really inspired by this book, and I realized I knew exactly when that was.
It was November 8th.
When the world got the news about Donald Trump’s shocking win, I tried to cope by continuing to write. Making art when things feel hopeless is important; it’s a light in the dark. But I started to doubt that Delaney Unlaced was an important enough story, at least for right now. I mean all stories are important, and not every book needs to be in some way linked to the current political climate (obviously), but suddenly I didn’t understand why I was dedicating so much of my time to writing about a person whose biggest problem is not knowing what she wants to do with her life. Delaney is a very privileged person, and part of her journey in the book is recognizing and embracing that privilege to help others – but that’s not really a story that needs to be told right now. That’s not a story I feel passionate about writing, given the world we’re currently living in.
So today, I decided to stop working on it. Maybe not forever, but at least for now. And I’ll admit: My fingers shook as I symbolically closed the Scrivener file. My eyes filled with tears when I told Joe later over dinner. Because making this decision not only felt like the loss of 2 years of work, it felt like losing a very good friend.
But I wrote another NaNo novel a couple years back called Miniature that’s been niggling in the back of my mind, and it feels a lot more relevant. It’s something I’m excited to work on again. Something that makes me feel hopeful. So I opened a new Scrivener file, and I called it Miniature Re-write.
So, this is a little late, but I think I actually succeeded on the prompt for last week after all.
Goodbye for now, Delaney Unlaced. There is a door. And it is closed.