Fog and Faith

fog january 15“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L. Doctorow

Last Friday afternoon, after visiting with my mom, I drove to the ferry in Kingston only to find the Sound completely socked in by fog. The 4:40 ferry didn’t show up on time, and still hadn’t docked at 5:00. I was supposed to meet a friend for dinner in Seattle, and I gave her a call. Would the ferry come at all? How could it make its way through so much fog? (

And then, it arrived.

I assumed that the crossing would take a lot longer (and I worried we were going to collide with something), but it took only a few extra minutes. By 5:45 I was on my way to dinner.

Writing is like this, as E.L. Doctorow famously said in his Paris Review interview.

No matter what stage of the process I find myself in, I am never quite sure where I’m heading. Will it take a year to revise my novel? Two? Or two weeks? (!) If I stick with my commitment to write 200 words a day on my new batch of characters, will a story begin to emerge? Never mind worrying about the big outcomes (a publishing contract! a best seller! awards!), my job is simply to keep inching through the fog.


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