I did not go outside my apartment today other than making a run to the pâtisserie for croissants for breakfast and a short stroll of the neighborhood on a very chilly evening after dinner. Otherwise, other than a short Yoga with Adriene session, I was struggling to write the opening scene of my hoped-for historical novel.
I’ve wanted to write the story of Adela, Countess of Blois, Chartres and Meaux from the late 1080s until 1125 or so. I’ve read historical fiction all my life, and always have said I want to be a writer but the pressure from my family or my own inner critic or society — or fear or procrastination or all of the above — kept me on a different path. When I turned 50 (12 long years ago) I knew that the only regret I would have if I were to die then without having ever tried to write a book.
Finally, about six months ago, I decided to get serious, hired a book coach to help and then promptly have tried to postpone my calls with the book coach as often as possible because I haven’t actually taken the time to sit down and write, or plot, or whatever my assignment might be.
Well, today I spent hours struggling over the opening scene. I don’t know if I can do this…I really think I cannot, but I also do not want to give up without having put in the time actually writing.
I want the world to know Adela’s story. Plenty of books have been written about her father (William the Conqueror), mother (Queen Matilda), brothers (especially King Henry I), and son (King Stephen), but those books only mention one aspect of Adela, and it is not a flattering one. A brilliant historian wrote her doctoral thesis on Adela and that’s been a great source for the facts. Now I have to turn it into a story, with a character arc and obstacles and all the stuff. And it’s not coming easy to me. I have to turn off my attorney mind and my inner critic and reach deep down inside myself and be vulnerable. I am not good at vulnerable.
Tomorrow I will explore Paris again, but I hope to also explore my writing about Adela, a little every day, until I have a shitty first draft to edit, until I can finally say I didn’t give up without giving it my best effort. And maybe it will stay shitty because it’s not a book that’s meant for me to write, but at least I will have tried!