Next Novelist Step§
by Russell Dyer
published: july 12, 2006; revised: july 12, 2006; readers in past month: 119
Well, I declared my novel finished and sent a letter to a New York literary agent along with a copy of the first chapter. If he agrees to be my agent, it’s only a matter of time before he’ll have it sold and it will be published. Maybe this agent will turn me down and maybe I’ll send similar letters to three dozen other agents and will be turned down by all of them and my book will never be published. No, there’s no maybe. I will get an agent and my novel will be published soon. I know all writers hope for this, but I know it will happen. I know this not because I have a premonition, but because for me it’s a matter of doing, not hoping and getting lucky. That may sound arrogant, but I don’t think I’m being so. For some people and for some things, they know what they can do and cannot do and what they hope they can do. I know what I can do and I can do this. I just need to do it: I’ve done part of it in that I wrote the novel; now I am doing what remains to be done which is getting an agent and getting the novel published.
Many times in my life I have been deeply entrenched in a particular mode of life and an identity, only to change abruptly who I am. I say abruptly, but it was seemingly abruptly. The transition often took months and years to accomplish, and a discerning eye could see the change coming, but for most, including me at certain levels of consciousness, could see no change in the offing. And then one day, there I am: a different person. It was this way when I first indisputably became a writer. I saw it coming, but didn’t quite comprehend that it was coming, and then one day I had business cards made that said, Writer under my name and gave up on thoughts of ever having a job again doing anything but writing, and the result was I was a writer and knew it.
So, here I am now, at the start of being a novelist. It’s an interesting thought and feeling. I have worked as a writer full-time for the past four years. I started this novel over two years ago based on a comical moment at my friend Richard Stringer’s house with his wife, Anne and as part of a writing class assignment. And for the past few months I have upped the page count, which has been dragging along, from a mere sixty pages to an additional two-hundred pages. So, being a novelist has long been in the making, but it was only a short time ago that I had a dream of writing a novel and to try to get it published if I ever do write it, and now here I am: no longer considering myself among the ranks of millions of people who dream of writing a novel, and soon no longer among the ranks of thousands who dream of pubilshing a novel, but soon to be among the ranks of those few who have published a novel.
There is an inner strength, for me, that comes from being able to say, ‘I wrote a book’ and ‘I am a writer.’ For quite some time I have enjoyed the confidence of being able to say these lines. I don’t know what it is about being able to say them. I guess it is that way because in our society, writers are respected — I’m not sure why, but they are. Maybe it’s because a writer is basically a thinker, a professional thinker and that his thoughts are read and respected. Whereas, while everyone thinks and would like their thoughts respected, they know that it is the thoughts of a writer that are held in high esteem. It is the thoughts of a writer that remain through time because they are published, and are not just dissipated day by day in small amounts and totally when they die. They know that for a writer, he or she goes beyond having his thoughts heard and respected by spouses and children, by co-workers at lunch or friends in bars. The thoughts of writers are heard by thousands, possibly millions of people. With the age of the internet, everyone can publish their thoughts, but with the exception of very few exceedingly popular web logs, it’s typically nothing to compare with publishing a book with a big publishing company and then having people pay money to have access to the writer’s thoughts. It is quite satisfying and an honor.
So far, other than entries in my web log, I’ve only done technical writing. Fiction writing, however, is far more impressive, far more nobler. This is why I am feeling particularly happy about this turning point in my life, about this new identity. Not only is fiction an artistically deeper airing of thoughts which deal with greater moments in life, there is a chance that a novel will be read decades, even centuries later. The possibility that one’s thoughts will be respected and appreciated for longer than one’s life has a tendency to draw the respect of those who are not writers. While I don’t feel my first novel will be read beyond my life time, the thought of it makes me feel good and I appreciate that many people respect this place in life. I feel privileged.