Posted in writing

Keep On Keepin’ On & The Novel I Refuse To Write

I’m done sulking. And to prove it I have some news. I submitted a piece to an anthology last night. And I’m working through a piece of creative nonfiction for submission to a magazine. The nf was up on here (it’s about Christmas trees) but I pulled it since I’m submitting it out there. Just need my fav set of eyes to look over it and then I’ll get it out.

The theme is Love Bites and my submission is about the thing most of my nonfiction surrounds: my first adult relationship. Which epitomizes “Love Bites” better than anything else in my life.

As writers I think we all have that one experience that gives us more fodder than we know what to do with. That relationship is mine. I have thousands of moments to explode outside of those six years — good and bad, tragic and poignant — but that relationship has given me my great American novel. But I’ll never write it.

And that was a hard decision to make. Because it is a great novel. A great novel. But to make it a novel I would have to pretty it up. I’d have to add things and delete others. I’d have to change names and soften some blows. I don’t want to do that. Because the story, as much as it makes for good, isolated pieces of nonfiction, is mine. It was my life for a long time. And part of owning it and celebrating getting through it and becoming the person I am today has been holding it up to the light and not prettying it up. It’s sitting alone with it and facing every mistake I made. Every bad choice. Things of which I’m not proud. But the heroine in my novel? She can’t have had some of the really ugly moments I had during that journey. And writing her would be a disservice. To her. To me.

I’m sure this sounds strange. To say: I have the perfect novel in my head. I’m not going to write it. I just cannot justify cleaning up what anyone did. Not what I did. And especially not what he did. Because it’s too much a part of my journey.

That said, I will continue to write episodes of it as nonfiction and I will use moments from it as pieces of fiction. But when I write about it as it happened it resonates with an authenticity I love. And I just can’t jeopardize that.

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