On Maybe Writing the Wrong Thing

I’m loving Thousand Movie Project and even getting excited about the entrepreneurial side of it that I’ve been trying to cultivate these past couple months, fishing for sponsors who might finance one of the screenings and crafting other possible angles of monetization, but I also worry sometimes, feel nervous and wrong, to find that I’m not writing fiction. I finished Horny Nuns a few months ago and I’m still waiting to hear back from a lot of the agents I submitted it to. Every now and then I’ll tinker with what feels like a novel, a fiction thing that’s still fetal if it’s anything at all, but mostly i’m just writing the essay responses that appear on this site — which I very much enjoy, and I even think some of them are very good, but still. The business of neglecting fiction, even if it’s for a greater long-term benefit, feels like bad business.

And yet I realize, too, that I can’t just jump from one fiction project to the next without living something of a life in between, accumulating things to say.

Mark Winegardner said that a novelist should read 300 novels for every novel she writes. That’s an arbitrary number, but I appreciate the idea. I should watch a few hundred movies, read a few hundred essays/novels, meet and talk with a hundred-odd people — digest all those stories in advance of that moment when I’ll feel the drive  and audacity to write my own.

That I’m not focused right now on writing one big piece of fiction is offputting, but I keep telling myself, earnest as possible, that I’m doing other productive shit that’ll ultimately lend to that end. Reminding myself that every step forward in this Project is a new thing learned, a bit of ground gained, and that whether Horny Nuns finds a home or not, whether the one before it or the one before that one ever sees the grain of a bookstore shelf, both the time and the muse to write fiction will again converge, and I’ll have another book under my belt.

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