My fellow Dames and I have been having an informal conversation of late regarding doing groups of themed posts on the blog to keep things organized and interesting. The first theme discussed is the concept of having goals in life, whether short or long term ones. I didn’t originally plan on writing a post on this particular goal tonight, or perhaps even at all, because when I was casually thinking about my goals this one wasn’t brightly flashing in my brain — even though it is a goal of mine and a very important one.
I’m a very introspective person. I literally spend my time in the past, researching and thinking about how people lived, what and how they thought, and why they did the things they did. It’s probably, in a way, why I read so much. Or, maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe I’m a historian because I’ve read so much my entire life — I’ve trained myself to ask those introspective questions. But debating something like that is sort of like asking the question: “What came first? The chicken or the egg?”
My love of reading has always been topically broad — from political thrillers and science fiction mysteries to dramatic love sagas and stories about the bonds of friendship. More recently, though, my readings of choice have gravitated more and more towards historical fiction related titles. Perhaps, then, you could say that my love of reading and my love of history are complimentary and that neither fall into the Latin concept of old that reads “Post hoc, ergo procter hoc” (After it, therefore because of it).
With this devotion in mind, then, it isn’t so far of a leap to understand why my goal is to eventually write a novel. Or two. Or ten. :-)
Seriously though. I’ve had a desire to write a novel for a while, but it’s something that I vacillate back and forth on, never having quite the right idea, enough time, or enough will power to just do it.
But, I think I may finally attempt it.
Because I have all kind of infinite spare time, right? Over the next 6 months my two main necessities are to a) write a Master’s thesis and b)apply and get into Ph.D. programs, so where could a novel possibly fit in? I don’t know either, but, hey, they do say that the busier you are, the more you accomplish.
So why the sudden decision that this would be my goal to write about?
The universe was sending me ideas today. Ideas for that ever elusive novel. As well as further inspiration to actually pursue it.
I think, in a way, that my anxiety and outright fear over writing my thesis and pursuing a Ph.D. has made me, not surprisingly, think about alternatives. Things that I may be able to do if my plans don’t work out the way I want them to. If you know me well, you know I’m all about plans. I’m prepared. I’m the girl who walks around the amusement park or Disney World with a map firmly in hand, because I have to have a plan. And a plan for the plan. And a plan in case plans a and b don’t work. I know, it’s crazy, but I never claimed to be sane.
Back to my point though. This morning while I was getting dressed, I was watching this documentary on PBS about a terrorist attack in India several years ago. The program included interviews with the survivors, who were very candid about the terror and the other more surprising human emotions that they experienced in the time they were held hostage in two besieged Mumbai hotels. (Here’s a link to the program in case you’re interested: Secrets of the Dead – Mumbai Massacre)
The observations these people had about life and death, about risk and bravery, about love and faith, and about hate and forgiveness gave me some wonderful ideas that I plan on exploring very soon.
I recognized that this program, which I hadn’t even seen in its entirety, had started something working in my brain while I was driving to campus. But, being so busy that sometimes I can’t even see straight, I filed the nugget of idea away in my head for perusal later.
But, the universe wasn’t done with me today.
Tonight, on Grey’s Anatomy, Alfre Woodard guest starred as a beloved novelist who needed brain surgery. She refused, however, to consent to the surgery until she finished her latest book. While some may find the story line sappy or may not care at all, and while I didn’t identify wholly with the show’s characterization of her as a novelist, something in it made me stop and really think. Even though my path is directed towards a Ph.D. and a life as a historian, I don’t want to give up the idea that maybe one day I’ll eventually write a novel.
A professor once asked me whether I was “writing the next great American novel yet.” Not yet.
But some day.