Leaving the Novel in Progress (Part 1)

I did consider it, once or twice, but the idea terrified me. Wasn’t the NIP (novel-in-progress) my anchor? Wasn’t it the reason I studied literature and creative writing, and read widely, and started this website – and wasn’t it my lifelong dream to be the Author of a Book?

There was no other job I wanted to do. There was nothing else I was this good at. What else could I do with my life?

If you’ve just read the above and thought “what pitiful adolescent stuff,” I won’t argue with you. I cringe at my past self too. I’m also impressed by her boldness: She started writing a novel at fourteen, and was still determined to finish it more than a decade later. She committed to years of study so that she could write the most detailed, authentic work possible. Her passion always sat in a corner of her mind, glowing with promise even when she was depressed.

I’m proud of this girl’s dedication. But I realize now that the beautiful promise of a published novel narrowed her focus too much.

I enrolled in university to learn how to be a professional writer, and graduated without much understanding of how to apply my excellent grades or find work that would accommodate my physical disability. Somehow, I had a job within months – but it had nothing to do with writing. My new career revolved around culture, history, and the natural world, things that had always interested me but never claimed as much attention as the NIP. I learned that my autism did not prevent me from being a decent teacher after all.

The idea of a career that was not centered around writing gained more appeal as the years went on. I considered going back to university, but the NIP always said, “How will you ever finish me if you go to graduate school?”

I started to resent the NIP, but I didn’t dare abandon it. I’d worked so hard to make something worthy, something that proved my skill as an artist and my dedication to social justice.

And then about three months ago, I stopped writing. I couldn’t find the motivation. In late January, I decided to set aside my childhood dream indefinitely. Not once have I felt any regret.

What changed?

It’s taken me several months to figure out what soured my relationship with the NIP. I’ll share more about this process in my next post.

Published by Emma Lammers

Writer with a novel in progress. Book reviewer. Occasionally crafty.

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