Okay, I’m going to share something with you here. Something that I’ll mention this one time but will not mention again (at least not until I’ve accomplished it). It is a daunting but necessary task, something that has been gnawing at me for some time, and something that I now feel compelled to do.
I am writing a novel.
For someone who has spent her career writing advertising copy (and having a passion for print ads), a novel is a whole different animal. With the parameters for advertising copywriters having changed (where’s Don Draper when you need him?), now seems like the perfect time to jump on the challenge that has been following me for all of my professional life.
For years, family members would nag, usually at the Passover seder, “When are you going to write the Great American Novel?” “Oh, I don’t know,” I’d always felt like saying, “There seem to be some guys named Hemingway and Fitzgerald who’ve already clinched that deal. Matzoh, anyone?”
Or then there are those well-meaning folks who are sure they know what it is I should write about. “You should write about the way you and B. met and got together,” they say gleefully, sure they’ve hit pay dirt. It’s a great story, I’ll admit. It’s also been written before — ever hear of When Harry Met Sally? Thought so.
In that vein, there are those who think that writing a novel that mimics another is a way to go. “Why not write something like Gone with the Wind? People loved that book!” (You think?) “You know, John Grisham is really successful — why don’t you write a law novel like one of his?” (Oh, sure, no problem.) “Have you read The Da Vinci Code? Something like that would be good, don’t you think?” (I do. As did author Dan Brown when he wrote a number of sequels featuring everyone’s favorite brilliant guy, Robert Langdon.)
Or then there are those who either a) have more confidence in me than I do, or b) are somewhat unaware of how things work. “How hard can it be?” they ask. (Right. Because coming up with an original plot, compelling characters, a voice that pulls readers in and leaves them wanting more — how long can that take?)
So. There you go. And here I am — with a very good start. I’ve got my characters (I think), my storyline (I’m pretty sure), and my bunny slippers (dress for success, after all). I’ve got my research materials, my trusty laptop, and my imagination (you can’t build a novel without the right tools). This novel has become my new shadow, my alter ego, my creative offering to the publishing gods.
It could take a year to finish. Or more. Or less. In its beginning stages alone, the experience is proving to be an exciting one; I love the power of controlling my little world and the people in it. But it has also been somewhat scary (like when the characters take over and lead me in directions I hadn’t planned).
Go ahead, ask. You know you want to. “So what’s it about?” I’d love to tell you … but then I’d have to … well, you know.
The plot thickens.
ⓒ 2018 Claudia Grossman