Don’t write your novel, find it – A red apron recipe

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“I’m sittin’ in first class and they can all kiss my ass, ‘cuase I’m goin’ back baby, back outta the world.”

      In Tripio, the protagonist Jay is writing his first novel. It is a road book. One of Jay’s literary heroes in Tripio is Jack “That’s not writing, that’s typingKerouac. It is in character for Jay to have attempted his first novel based on the two month road trip he had taken as part of his aimless post college graduation life. Tripio starts with Jay nearing the end of writing the novel. He is not exactly struggling with the ending of it. After all, it is finite. The book will end with end of the journal he kept for its duration. Jay is confronted more by the fact that he is afraid he doesn’t even know what the book he has almost finished writing, has worked hard on, is even about.

   In real life, that was also true. Today, I describe “Back Outta the World” as a road trip in which the main character’s mind and body are on two different trips and meet at the end. I only came to that conclusion as I reworked Back outta the World (BotW) prior to starting Tripio. I arrived at this conclusion approximately 20 years after I finished physically writing BotW. You will have to buy and read Tripio to find that section describing how I felt upon finishing BotW . I will tell you that it is one of the few parts of Tripio that remains word for word in the novel, as it was recorded in my journal on that day in my Chicago apartment over twenty years ago.

         If I am promoting and publishing Tripio as a Starbucks novel, reflecting on it daily now as the story of my early adult life, then I am writing about my writing twice over. In other words there could be no Tripio without BotW. Yet, In Tripio, I was hesitant at first to even give Back outta the World a name. Early in the writing of Tripio, I referred to BotW as “my writing” or “the novel”. Then, as I began to feel confident and came to see possibility of completing, publishing and marketing of Tripio, I made it a point to name “the novel” embedded in Tripio. In fact, I had too. In order for Tripio to “work” (you be the judge), BotW had to be a powerful, named presence in Jay’s mind. It had to be identified so that it could carry it’s third of the book.

I found it!

The Day I found my novel

Most importantly and to the point of this post, I did find out what Back outta the World is about. It is not recorded in however, in Tripio. It is in the above entry from my journal, or Sketchbook of the Mind, or Sotm, from 2016. I frantically recorded the moment on the page pictured above. I remember standing over the entry and thinking that it was so incredibly obvious that when I was writing Botw that I was chasing my own “monkey mind“. As a young man in those days that became Back outta the World, I had no idea. I felt that events came at me. I felt I was watching things happen to me instead of making them happen myself. I did not know it consciously then, but it showed up in the pages of BotW.

To conclude, it did feel good to realize I could and did find my monkey mind. As to the Red Apron recipe, I believe this moment helped me understand that it is best, for me for me at least, not to “write” your novel so much as “find” it. I hope for your sake it doesn’t take 20 years. Your interpretation of this recipe will take all shapes and forms for your work. But, believe me, it is always there. Write honestly with inward attention and intention and it, the novel, the meaning, is always there, waiting. I do think a lapse of time between rewrites helps. I am not recommending waiting two decades. A middle path will appear for you and your work. To put it another way, don’t write to finish your novel ( they are never really finished anyway) to sell it. Rather, write it and then let it do the work for you. It will take rewriting and rewriting and hopefully not two decades but what comes out may surprise you and will be well worth it.


Don’t try to write your novel, find your novel

“May I help who’s next?”

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