Negotiating with the Novel in Your Drawer

Published on by Lisa Gates.

You didn't mean to do it. It was a Sunday and you were rummaging through your cupboards and drawers looking for paper clips and you just accidentally opened that drawer. The drawer that emits heat waves of angst every time you even so much as brush past it. The Novel Drawer. You run your hand over the first page and gently lift it from it's resting place. You peel a few pages forward and read a the words with your head turned sideways. One line, a few paragraphs, entire pages...and soon you're sitting in the big overstuffed chair with your pencil, loving your creation.

That night, that same Sunday night the heat waves coming from the drawer slip past the blood-brain barrier and startle you awake. Your pencil lurches into your hand and you grab your journal and capture the message from the ether.

The alarm goes off at 5 a.m. and three lunches, two drop-offs and three meetings later, and all metaphor drained from your body, your other child, your other job lies abandoned, waiting to be adopted by a real writer. One who really cares.

I know this place. I know it like your blood sister. Like your blood, sister. And I know the only real thing missing is a decision. A negotiated resolution. You can answer the question, "what will it take to create the space to say yes to my other life?" You can ask yourself several more diagnostic questions (the lifeblood of negotiation), careful to notice that every rationalization is just that—a rationalization. Avoidance.

In the end, you carve out two blocks of 15 minutes and set a timer. You do this for several days until the timer annoys you. You re-set it for 30 more minutes. And soon, you've carved out half a Saturday and even a long weekend. 

Along the way you negotiate with nefarious harpies who remind you that you're just an accountant, or a lawyer, and not Virginia Woolf or Twyla Tharp or Mozart. You scold them for not cooperating (tit for tat) and tell them their breath is fowl or the like. 

Then once upon a time, just yesterday, you push "send." In other words, blood sister, your other child will not survive through wishful thinking. You must negotiate. You must negotiate your dreams before the years multiply like missing socks in the laundry you did instead.



Negotiation, tit for tat, writing a novel

Published on by Lisa Gates.