I used to think I could write a novel. I have notebooks full of sketches for characters. I had no trouble populating my imagination with interesting people, but when it came down to it I couldn’t think of anything for them to do. Should they band together and fight crime? Probably not. Escape to a Swiss chalet for passionate lovemaking after a hard day on the slopes? Not likely. Explore new galaxies and make contact with various alien species? Give me a break. Having fully developed my characters’ inner lives, their back stories, and their living arrangements, I found myself utterly without a plot.
Perhaps not surprisingly it’s the same problem I have in real life. I don’t have a plan; there is no grand narrative driving me forward. I went to school, then more school, and then still more school because it was fun, I was good at it, and finally they offered to pay me to continue. But I look at my brother and it’s clear that there is a map in his head. Graduate college. Get married. Buy a house. Have a kid, then another. Buy a bigger house. Save for retirement.
I’m not saying I want to live exactly like my brother is living; but I absolutely envy the fact that he has such a clear plan. He knows what he wants his life to be like, he knows how to achieve it, he goes and he gets it. He does not pass Go, he does not collect $200.00.
I, on the other hand, am not a grown-up. True, I did some of those things on my brother’s list. I have, in fact, graduated college. I have, in fact, gotten married, and it was the smartest thing I ever did. But I am not really sure what it is I’m supposed to be doing now, for the next seventy years. I’m like those characters in my never-going-to-be-written novel: all dressed up with an inner monologue and nowhere to go. Clearly no babies are forthcoming, and equally clearly I am never going to get out of my current job.
This post is directionless and rambly and depressing and probably meaningless. Just like my novel would be if I ever wrote it.
Read this instead. You won’t regret it.