You can certainly give up on your novel. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time somebody did. What is the world without 200, 300, 400 pages? Probably not so different. You can give up because you’re too young and you don’t know anything. You don’t know what it’s like to be a mother, to be suffering from serious illnesses, to have an ex-husband, etc. You can give up and release a sigh of relief so you can finally get all those short stories together.
You can certainly just give up, like I almost did.
I almost gave up, until my own words starts following me around with an overbearing shadow. Last Saturday I walked into a café and saw my characters sitting at a table for lunch just like they do in a scene from Chapter One. I ran into a woman with the same name as my protagonist, Kathleen, twice the day before that and she heard me sing, telling me she didn’t know I sang and that it was beautiful, just like my she does in another scene I wrote. I went to view an apartment I was drawn to on a cloudy day yesterday, thinking it was on the upper level of the house. When I pulled up to the house, I was astonished to realize how similar it looked to the house I imagined Kathleen living in. In fact, it is the fictional house I wrote up, and the apartment was on the lower level, the exact location that I imagined. I was in shock to be standing on the deck of this house that is my opening scene, then walking into the same gloomy atmosphere inside.
My novel has come to life in the very city in which I was raised, the very city in which I presently reside. But my setting has also come to life in other parts of the world, specifically on the border of Colorado and New Mexico, where my protagonist’s trip takes place. I imagined and described these spaces vividly as if I had been there before. Two years ago on a road trip to New Mexico with my aunts and a family friend, we drove past certain places I knew all too well: Kathleen’s childhood best friend’s house on the side of the road between pueblos, and then the restaurant and bar in the fictional town of Anaranjado, NM, which turns out to be San Luis, Colorado, in actuality. I had clearly been to these places before either in my imagination or a different dimension.
It’s one thing for gravity to pull you towards your own words, taking you to places of your own imagination and to people you’ve described so descriptively. It’s another thing to have the Universe sing you songs that describe your words, sending shivers up your spine as you listen to particularly important scenes accompanied by a hauntingly fitting melody. For example, a song titled “Run” by none other than Kathleen Edwards describes my scene of Kathleen and her mother getting into an argument which leads Kathleen to run alongside the river until her legs went numb and her heart nearly beat out of her chest. “California Stars” by Wilco is reminiscent of one of her nostalgic flashbacks. I made a collage with both song names in it before I’d even heard both of them.
Because of all of these signals being thrown at me from all different directions, I can’t help but notice how the universe is begging me to channel a soul I never knew and mark her thoughts and expressions in written form. There are only rare voices called to do such things, and although I may sound crazy to the rest of the world and to myself, I must follow through with this journey I began five years ago on a school bus heading to a massive art show four hours away (speaking of which, I saw the art teacher who took us there, today by coincidence).
Now that I have recognized these encouraging pushes from the Universe, I have begun to gather resources and do research. I’m beginning to become immersed in my incomplete novel once again, in hopes that one day it will be completed and be read by others who somehow relate to it. Yes, those 200, 300, or 400 some pages may just be a significant part of history and a source of inspiration to all who read it.