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Let it roll

December 3, 2012 - Carrie Olson
For the past two years, I have been working on a novel. Let’s just call it an incomplete manuscript, a past due project, or perhaps — in more dramatic phrasing — my albatross.

I have been obsessed with young adult literature for as long as I have been able to read. When I received my first library card, I yearned to climb the stairs to the second floor where the YA collection was stored. By the time I graduated high school, I had read much of what was offered for my age group at Kendall Young Library. I was hooked. I should be reading more of the adult literature out there now, but I still find myself sitting near teenagers at Barnes & Noble, absorbed in a high school romance novel.

I’ve wanted for so long to be one of those authors featured in the stacks at my hometown library. And finally, I have the outline and a few chapters completed in my goal’s pursuit.

The idea for such a work started during my time as an undergraduate student. It again entered my mind while I was editing hundreds of pages of housing law transcript, during a time of transition. Whenever out on a run, the imagery painted itself as I let it take shape. Without writing any of it down on a page, I have scratched out the narrative and re-written it time and time again.

There has been more of an urgency recently, as I have watch loved ones succeed in their goals and see time going rapidly by. I have interviewed students, read page upon page of YA literature, and have attended conferences on the subject.

Here’s the only problem: I can’t seem to write any more of it down. Oh, I have ideas. I know what the next chapter should be. It’s not that. I’m just afraid, afraid of everything: Not being successful, criticism, not being good enough — anything that someone could be afraid of in the writing process has paralyzed me. This is the first time I have revealed my goal to a broader audience. Only a select few have been privy to knowing this secret, and I have decided that perhaps being open and honest about my pursuit may inspire the work to continue.

It’s one of those times in life when I have hit that roadblock that dictates where to turn next. Either end this project and start anew with a different dream or idea, or finish the damn thing already. I know well enough that I’m not the only person to experience such a daunting task and not know where a certain path could lead. In the past few months, I have scheduled time for this writing, only to have an errand come up or another distraction take its place. So I did what any crazy person could possibly do: Set a very distinct deadline in February. A really important writing conference for children’s literature will be held in New York. I spent a pretty penny to attend the event, even extra on a roundtable meeting held before — to show parts of my manuscript to agents and publishers. Just the idea makes me want to throw up. Yet, I think it might be the trick to my stagnant behavior.

So, I’m about to make another full pot of coffee and set these jittery fingers to work. As an unemployed girl with no money in a city that requires handsome funds — I really don’t have much else to do than the task right in front.

So, here goes: Let it roll.


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