It’s not always easy finding an image to accompany posts on a writing blog. No one wants to see a photo of me, sweaty from a run, aching shoulders slouching, pounding out words (then deleting some and replacing them) on my novel-in-progress. Plus, since I write during the day when my husband is at work and my kids are at school (and after my “real” work on magazine assignments is done), there’s no one even here to take such a picture. (Although my two co-worker dogs are great company, they’re not photographers.) Yet the image above, while boring, represents hope. As I’ve posted many times, after the success of Cheer: A Novel, I spent months writing another novel that Just. Didn’t. Work. (I also spent several weeks drafting a short story that may or may not similarly end up in the circular file — at the very least, it needs tons of work.) I’m not going to lie — it’s hard to fail at writing. Writing is hard enough without then also failing at it. (If you don’t believe me, check out some of the amazing Facebook posts by Anne Lamott.) But as I reported recently, I’ve gathered my courage and started a new novel. After plotting it out for many months and tweaking it after receiving an editor’s feedback, I’ve now got 24,000 words — 13 chapters! — written so far. I don’t want to jinx it (or, as we Jews say, give it a kenahora) but so far so good. Right now, I’m just trying to get out a first draft. (Already, the manuscript is littered with TKs: What’s a good made-up name for a boarding school? What do you call those temporary offices at construction sites?) Once this draft is done, there’s still so much work left to do — most notably, enhancing characterization and setting, dialing up the emotion and drama, not to mention culling overused words, etc. But dare I say, the story seems to be…working. So I’m proudly posting a boring but profoundly hopeful photo of my novel statistics, an image that reflects my unwavering desire to be not just a journalist who happened to write a novel but, rather, a novelist.