“No one cares. It sounds so cold. It looks cold. But it wasn’t meant that way, not entirely. What I was telling myself was that if I failed, no one would care. If I was never published, no one would notice. If I never fulfilled my dream, it wouldn’t make a bit of diference to anyone else on the planet. ‘No one cares’ meant no one was watching, no one was keeping score, no one was judging. I was free.” — Dennis Lehane, from his forward in “your first NOVEL”.
As some of you may know — and many of you won’t — November is National Novel Writing Month. It is so official, they even have a crest (see below; pretty sick, yeah?). And anyone that knows me personally knows that writing a novel is one of my greatest dreams. I want to write a novel that is published and successful enough that people know about it and want to read it, because it carries a reputation of being a well-written, page-turning story that brings forth emotion when people read it, because it inspires them. A hefty goal, I know, but it is something I’ve wanted to accomplish ever since I can remember. It is something I’ve dreamed about and something I’ve prayed about constantly. And one day, I hope to accomplish it. And while I don’t think I’ll be able to crank out a novel this month (that’s college for you), I thought I’d take a moment in honor of NaNoWriMo and just share something that I stumbled upon a few years back that I know will help me when I do write my novel.
One Spring Break a couple years ago, some really good friends of mine and I traveled down to the Lake of the Ozarks. We went shopping one afternoon and naturally, I convinced them to stop by a bookstore (though, to be fair, I didn’t have to use much persuasion). It was an older bookstore filled with random books and not a lot of best-sellers that would line up the shelves of a place like Borders, for instance (may it rest in peace <3). Somehow amongst the clutter, I found a fair-sized hardback. It had a simple purple cover, patterned in dark purple dots and lighter purple diamonds. Then, in a pale green box, the title read as follows: “your first NOVEL: a published author and a top agent share the keys to achieving your dream.” I usually wasn’t one for buying how-to books of this manner, but I figured I’d give it a flip through. I was hooked by the forward, which I read in the store, which was scribed by Dennis Lehane, one of my favorite authors.
It is from that forward that I got the quote at the beginning of this post and the title for this blog; but not only that, I also got a personal motto that many friends know I use and advice that I will carry with me throughout my writing career. Something I always have struggled with is the perception that others view me in, especially when they look through my writing. I would spend hours writing a simple paragraph for a short story or trying to come up with the perfect stanza for a poem, not because I struggled with making the words flow, but because I spent so much time trying to figure out what words everyone else would deem adequate. I knew what I wanted to say, but I became so concerned with what would please others or worried that others wouldn’t like it, that writing became less of a passion and more of a chore. And that just didn’t fly with me.
I reread Lehane’s words in his forward over and over again, blown away by what he was saying and the truth that gave his words weight. When I write, it affects no one. The world doesn’t know what I’m writing, why I’m writing; it doesn’t care if I write or if I don’t; doesn’t care if I succeed or not, because the world won’t be affected if I succeed or fail, really. And it sounds harsh. Negative. Cold. But I found it liberating. When I write my novel, it would be silly to think about what everyone else thinks, because the world won’t know when I write it and it won’t be affected by it. Thinking with this “no one cares” mindset has allowed me to find more of my style as a writer and honestly, have the courage to write more. And the key to any great writer is to not only to write fearfully, but to actually write. And that’s what I’ve started to do.
I took Lehane’s advice and taped a small notecard with my new motto on my laptop. And more often than not, when people see the words “no one cares” taped on the laptop of someone who radiates positivity, they are thrown off-guard and confused by it, and naturally question it. But I put it there so that I can glance at it and remember when I’m getting discouraged that I am writing for me, for the fact that I cannot not write, and because God blessed me with this talent with words and I am not going to waste it. And I think that’s a pretty cool thing.
“You should write because you can’t not write. You should write because some stray scrap of your soul is trying to manifest itself verbally. You should write because story is your preferred method by which to make order out of the chaos we call existence. You should write because even though the process terrifies you, the absence of that process terrifies you more.” — Lehane