I always admired the novel so much that I maybe was so afraid to fail. I loved the novel since I was very, very young; especially the long, big like novel that takes you through generations, and historical stuff. So, it was really a big challenge.

 

And I think, why did it take me so long? In one way, it has to do with everyday life. I mean I have four kids. And it’s very convenient to write a poem or a short story, especially if you’re alone. I was a single mom with three kids for many years. So, it was easy for me to write short texts. But when you write a novel, it kind of takes over, you kind of disappear into it, it kind of absorbs you. And so, I think I was afraid of that actually.

 

But also, I was afraid if I was able to — whatever, how can I say it? To have so many characters in one story, to unfold a huge big story, and spend more time on the details, fold it out in a different way, because I came from the short stories and the poetry. And what I realized when I started out writing a novel was that it took me so long to do the first 25 pages.1 And when I was done with them, I thought, well this is it. This is like a long short story.

 

So, I would have to push myself back into the writing and say no, no, no, don’t give up on that. Don’t give up, keep going. And while writing it, I kind of found a new voice, or a way to — I mean my novel is like almost 400 pages long. So, it’s a long story. I have a lot of characters in it. It’s like a huge big family story at the same time. And so, I kind of learned, while doing it, that it was okay to describe a room in detail. I didn’t only have to focus on the green chair in the corner. I could tell what was on the table. I could spend time on characters that were maybe only present in the novel in one short scene.

 

So, at some point I got to enjoy it. But in the beginning, it was really, really tough. I mean, it was really — I thought I can never do this. And it was so exhausting. I mean I so much admire novelists, because it’s so exhausting. I mean it’s like you live half of your life, for years, in fiction, in a different world, that you enter like maybe 10 hours a day. It’s really — it’s tough.

  1. Paint By Numbers
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