July 17th, 2014, 8pm

I want badly to be a novelist. I’ve wanted it my entire life. My mother printed and bound a story I wrote when I was about five, and from that moment on becoming a writer was officially The Dream. The thing about dreams, though, is that they’re always remote enough to be safe. When you’re a five-year-old kid pandering to your parents’ easy praise, or third grader with a hundred composition notebooks half-full of abandoned stories, or a middle school nerd writing in a diary every night, or a high school junior in an advanced composition class, or a college freshman writing for the school newspaper, or a recent graduate whose audacious cover letters rely on nothing but fluff and “writing ability” – in the background of all those scenarios hints the promise of “some day.” Becoming a novelist will happen “some day” down the road. Like all dreams, it will simply fall into place once life has begun… right?

Lately, the realization has crept up on me: there is no anointed hour in which the Gods of Google Calendar will add the event “Become Novelist” to the schedule of my life. The tricky part about becoming a novelist is that you actually have to write a novel. And talking or thinking or planning to write a novel is not the same thing as writing a novel, the same way that talking or thinking or planning to run a marathon doesn’t move you an inch closer to the finish line. My problem is that I’ve been thinking about my future novel as a dream come true, my own personal happily ever after, when I should have been treating it like training for a race. Both require decisive action and commitment. Both require you to find time that didn’t exist before you needed to dedicate it to something. And I can’t speak for writing a novel (clearly I haven’t, yet), but I do know from experience that marathon training isn’t all rainbows and smiles. There is joy, surely, but it is bundled with hard work, not a little pain, and a deep, exhausted satisfaction.

So, there’s been a slight change of plans. I no longer want to become a novelist. I want to write a goddamn novel. And right here, right now is race day registration: I am making a commitment, I am declaring a priority. One year from May will mark the second anniversary of my college graduation, as good a time as any to have accomplished something. May 20, 2015 is officially my deadline. Cheers.

Sanna, David Wade, Christine and david said thanks.

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Sara Ashley

Writer, runner, and a terrible but enthusiastic karaoke star.

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