Friday, October 14, 2011

I have written a novel

It took me one year. It is 285 pages long, double spaced. I have made it through two official rough drafts, but some sections I have rewritten at least seven times.

Wonder why I hardly ever post anything on my blog anymore and never comment on your blogs? Writing. Wonder why I haven’t come to play-group in the last 12 months? Writing. Wonder why I haven’t read any of the books in bookclub? Writing. Wonder why I haven’t been to Relief Society activities or volunteered at my kids schools or done any of the gracious and good things mothers are supposed to do? Wonder why my children look like malnourished orphans? You guessed it.

Today I realized I haven’t exercised in months. I can’t remember the last time I broke a sweat. My ward split almost a year ago and I still don’t know more than half of the people’s names. I have sheepdog-hair that is constantly getting in my eyes and mouth, but I don’t have time to go cut it because I am writing, writing, madly writing!

You see, I had an idea—a darn good idea—and I was on fire. I had to get it out on paper, or at least out on my computer screen, so that I could publish it and change the world with my lyrical language, witty humor and hidden gems of wisdom.

In some ways writing has been good for me. First of all, I love it. Typing up a scene gives me a little thrill and I actually get the (misleading) impression that I am actually good at this. I am going to be just like J.K. Rowling! How many zillion billion ka-trillion people have thought that before? Second of all, it is the only hobby I’ve had that doesn’t cost anything. Scott likes that part. Perhaps that is why he has been so supportive.

I bet you want to read it, don’t you?

Yes, yes….that is what they all say. But only ONE of the undisclosed-number-of-people I sent my mss to has read beyond page 100. Did I mention this was close to 300 pages long? If the people I love can’t finish it, how would I ever expect Big Scary Mr. Publisher to even open the envelope?

Believe me, I’ve done my homework. I have read Writers Market books cover to cover. I know what I have to do to get my book out there, into the hands of the masses. I know the odds.

I bet you want to know what it is about, don’t you?

The only way you will ever know is if you see it at Barnes and Noble someday, sitting there all pretty and glossy on the center display table….but that won’t happen. Nope. Do you know why? Because I am not going to work on it any more. Do you know why? BECAUSE I HAVE FOUR KIDS. THAT is why.

Now I know mothers need hobbies and all that. Believe me, I am the mother of all hobbyists. (Did that come out right?) Long before I became a "writer" I was a seamstress, an artist, a musician, a dog trainer. But writing a NOVEL? Aye, aye, aye. My own expectations disgust me.

Throughout the past YEAR I have kept my fingers dancing away on my keyboard with the illusion that if I can just keep trucking, ultimately this manuscript will come out of its cocoon and unfold its shimmering wings. I just want to create something special. Everyone wants to do something amazing, right? To accomplish something where everyone will say, bravo, you’re cool now. That was really great. You really changed my life, Steve Jobs.

To make it worse, there is that blasted American Dream mentality which makes us think we really can do anything if we work hard enough. This is what gets me in trouble, because I am a hard worker and so I obsess over sentence structure and plot and word choice, knowing that if I just put in the time eventually everything will come out sounding like Barbara Kingsolver.

But tonight I read my story with new eyes. And you know what? I don’t think that if I wrote for a hundred years I would be able to write like Barbara Kingsolver. Or Dr. Seuss for that matter.

And you know what else? I want my kids to remember me as a face, not as a glowing apple.

Besides, my rear end is huge and I need more exercise.


  1. I hope someday I can write like Chelsea Dyreng.

  2. Melissa, I think the same thing about you every Monday.

  3. You are creating something beautiful and lasting everyday you care for and teach and love and enjoy your family. There is nothing longer lasting than that!

  4. Chelsea, would you like about 8 very literacy-savvy editors to read your book and give feedback (all positive and constructive, of course), because I know this bookclub...

  5. Oh if only my rear end was as huge (not) as yours! Tell me why your blog is title "Turkeyboys' Girls" I am curious. BTW this is Marla N. if my name doesn't pop up.

  6. Working on my own novel, Chelsea. I'm at about 35,000 words so far, but I think I have about a year to go before it's finished. I only write about 500 words a day. Honestly, don't be discouraged by family not reading it. It's hard for them to take anything you do seriously since they've known you since you've eaten flies. Send it my way, I'll give it a read.

  7. That was really funny! I want to read your book!

  8. Chels, I'd love to read your book. I'm writing a novel too. I totally relate to everything you said in this post. I have no idea if anything will come of my long hours spent writing, but I can hope, right? You come by writing naturally. One of my very favorite non-fiction books was written by your dad. Seriously, I thought it was fascinating! Hang in there, and send a draft my way. -Caleb

  9. You are my hero. I can't wait to read it. You're gonna let me read it right??

  10. I believe in your Chelsea. I believe in you.