Monthly Archives: February 2016

In The Story

Something really interesting has happened as I work consistently on Baby Love. I’m struggling with the words to describe it, and oh wow, that just feels like a really big problem for a writer. Struggling with words! Gasp! But that is supposed to be your strength, she cries to herself. It’s true, though. I’m having trouble explaining what, precisely, is happening inside my heart and mind these days.

To be totally truthful, I’ve been aboard Ye Ol’ Struggle Bus as I’ve watched my friends and former co-workers engage once more in the lively world of racing. The season has fired up again, and so much is happening. We are approaching race two of 24 this weekend, and by ‘we’ I mean ‘they,’ ahem. There are so many things I would really enjoy being part of out there, but there is also so much that I am super grateful to have left behind.

I could harp on this forever. I probably will. You will tire of my lamentations, dear reader, of this I am certain. And so I will attempt to restrain myself from blah blah blahing you to tears with how much I miss that super-fast world and the thunderous excitement of drag racing.

I really do want to tell you about this interesting thing that has happened, so allow me to begin again.

Baby Love has meant something to me from the beginning, but it was always just this story that I wanted to tell. I felt compelled, I was driven toward expelling it from my mind and heart, and it was almost like it wasn’t something I could control. I had to write this story. No choice. It was going to come out of me at some point, like the alien that busts through that guy’s belly in that creepy 1979 movie. Hmmmm. That’s an analogy I really don’t feel very good about, now that it’s on paper. That movie gave me some serious nightmares as a kid, but hey, it’s a good visual, right?

Anyway. Baby Love was always just a story – until this week, when I somehow fell into it. I think I told you all before that the characters were beginning to feel real, which does sound a bit weird, except that I want them to be real for you. If I don’t believe them, why would the reader? The characters must be relatable and believable, and I feel as though through development I am achieving that, but I’m also seeing the story from the inside now. That’s a crazy feeling, but it’s crazy-good. It makes it so much fun, and I suspect I’m supposed to feel that in order for the book to be worthy of your time.

It’s like this: I have a very dear friend who is a writer but also works on racecars and has been a racecar driver, himself. He has been part of racing all of his life and is very well known in that world. This man is an incredible writer, but I am most fascinated by his presence on the starting line. I loved watching him watch the racecars, because he is so clearly in the run. He isn’t really observing the car power down the quarter-mile, he IS the car and the driver and the racetrack all at once. He lives the run as it happens, and you can see it by the way he moves with the car though his feet remain planted.

Lately, I have come to know what that feels like. As I have gotten to know the characters, I have actually felt sad about what I know is going to happen to some of them – but happy and excited, too, about the good things ahead. I can’t believe I’m the lucky fortuneteller who gets to lay it out for them. It’s a privilege to be here. I’m not a character, no, but I’m most certainly inside the book, feeling the feelings and caring about these people and their lives. I care about what happens at the finish line. I care about what happens after, and I can even see the next race now.

Before, the story was just an idea that I kept kind of trying to squint at and decipher. What was blurry and questionable is now very clear and defined, and I am grateful for this transition. I know it won’t always be this vivid, though. Writing is like that. Heck, life is like that. But right now I am very thankful to be in the story.

God’s Honest Truth

I’ve been waking up early every day this year to write. Okay, not every day. But a LOT of days, in my defense. Stop being so judgy. Sheesh.

Anyway, I’ve been waking up early to write, and I’ve been taking workshops and classes and reading my heart out because I am committed to Baby Love. I don’t want to write a mediocre novel; I want to write something worthy of print, you guys. I’m not trying to churn something out just so I can say to the world (and myself), “Look y’all! I wrote a BOOK!” Nope, nope, nope, I want to write something that people want to read, and then after they read it they think, Wow, let me see what else Natalie Novak has written that I can consume. Delicious! I’m on a mission.

God’s Honest Truth: I already wrote Baby Love. I wrote it in a creative writing class in college a whole bunch of years ago, but then it was just a paper for class – which I aced, by the way and of course. Now, Baby Love is a novel in the making, and I’m gonna let you in on a little secret about the way I told the story back then. There was some truth to it. There was a lot of truth to it, actually.

But now, as I am re-writing it in novel form, I have taken ginormous liberties, allowing the story to become a pure work of fiction. Very little truth is left on the page anymore, although as I am developing characters, I am finding that everyone I write about is somehow based on multiple people I already know. I recognize myself in some (a lot) of the characters, but I also recognize my sister, my high school best friend, my daughters, my ex-boyfriends. None of the characters in Baby Love, however, are based solely on any one person I know. There is a little bit of a whole bunch of folks all wrapped into every one. It is so strange to see it all coming together and to know that I’ve created these individuals who have such distinct identities. I feel attached to them, even though they aren’t living, breathing, flesh-and-blood people. I hope you do, too, when you read this book.

I’m not sure how to translate this post into something meaningful. I guess I just wanted to tell you.

I think a little part of me is afraid of what people will think (I’m so laughing at myself right now – “a little part of me is afraid.” Hello, understatement of the century). I’m finding that it takes a lot of courage to be a writer. I thought it would be so easy, doing what I love. But the truth is, writing feels far too close to a confession, or at the very least an indicator of the true depth of your creativity. Hey, we all want to be intelligent. Most folks think they’re pretty smart, wouldn’t you say? But believing that you also have enough creativity in your soul to be entertaining for more than 500 words is either really super brave or really ridiculously silly.

We’ll soon find out.

Reset Mondays

Oh, I love a good Monday. It’s a time to reset, to start again, to remember what you were going after and get back on the bus and return to the road. I’m a warrior, if you really want to know. A road warrior, even if I’m on an actual road a lot less now. My former career involved a lot of airplanes and rental cars and hotels, but this new path doesn’t take me far from home. Not physically, anyway, though mentally it is pretty darn demanding. It is, most certainly, a road. It’s not the major highway I was on before, though. It’s more like a backwoods dirt road that requires a slower, more methodical pace and careful navigation through thickets and swamps and weedy overgrowth.

Plus, I am finding it so very difficult to stay focused on the path before me when there are so many beautiful things I want to stop and appreciate.

When I was on that major highway all day every day, I forgot these things existed. Okay, I didn’t forget. But I put them on the backburner and said, one day I will think about these things. One day I will notice and appreciate them. Well, that time is now – but I am finding that there is not enough time in the day to do all that I want to do. I put off so much for so long. How will I ever see and do and love and be all that I am driven toward? It’s overwhelming. So overwhelming. I want too much.

Or do I?

I’m trying something new with this blog and website because, well, I need to take a fresh approach to this very important part of my career if I’m going to have any success. That’s why I left racing in the first place – to have success as an author. There are other things I’m doing as well, including launching and running a business encouraging others to focus on What Matters Most to them, and I’m doing that with JosephinesPlace.com. Check it out, if you have time. It means a lot to me, and I hope that as it grows, it will come to mean a lot to others as well.

What Matters Most to me includes making sure that I am living out what I believe God put me on this earth to do. I’m meant to write. And so I am writing. I have made a commitment to it in a way that I never have before, and because of that, I have seen progress in a way that I have never seen before. It’s true.

On July 24, 2004, I cut out my horoscope and taped it to a page in my planner because it struck such a chord deep within me.

Consistent effort toward a goal is more reliable than a whimsical wish.

I have done a lot of whimsical wishing in my life. Even after cutting out my horoscope that day, I continued to wish and dream and hope for many years. I still do it. Looking back now, however, I realize it is important to wish – but it is also important to turn that wish into a goal, if it’s something you really want. And then you must begin laying out a plan to make that wish a reality. Once the plan is in place, you have to start working the plan. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m making consistent effort toward the goal, and I’m trying hard not to become distracted by all the other pretty little wishes that keep populating any available space in my heart.

That’s tough, but I’m working on it. Daily message to self: Stay the course. Cut through the weeds and trudge through the swamps. Just keep going. Remember, you’re on the right path.

More soon. Gotta get on the road. xo