You don’t write a novel to make money. You don’t write a novel to make friends. You write a novel because you haven’t any choice. The novel lurks in the deeper parts of your mind, all character and plot and the little scenes that set your knees wobbling with excitement. The novel prowls the perimeter of the cage, looking for ways to escape and biding its time in a not so subtle fashion.
“Stretching Prose” got me thinking about writing another novel. It’s been a long time since I put myself through the wringer, and like childbirth, time has softened the edges of the pain and filled my memories with the warm glow of nostalgia.
I ask myself, like someone thinking about a third child, why on earth would I do this? Why would I go through all of the struggle and pain to bring forth another creation that no one will read but I.
And then, I remember there is no quantitative answer: I write because that’s who I am.
You’re reading this right now looking for your own inspiration. Maybe you’ve come to a bad spot. The work is not going well, each day is a struggle, etc. Perhaps you’re trying to get started and all you see before you is a blank page.
Writing is not for the weak
There is nothing simple about writing a novel. It’s hard, lonely work.
There are days and weeks of composition, and double that in revision. There is the sending out of endless envelopes and the receipt of rejections. But you’re not intimidated by that, are you? The work and the rejections? You’ve lived your whole life steeped in that reality, and where others turn back to their normal lives you whip about in a rage. You want to strike out and show what you can do.
Strike, then! Blast out a page! Then another and another!
Writing is not for the timid
It takes courage to write. Every day you’ll face the challenge of yourself, because that’s who you are writing against. There’s no one else there in the room with you. Just you and the keyboard and the story behind your eyes.
Writing is yours to do
Do you write for the reader or do you write for yourself? You write for neither. You write for the story. The story is the thing that keeps you awake at night. The story is what compels you to think about writing in the first place.
No one is going to read your novel until you finish. No one is going to hear that story until you put pen to paper and beat yourself into a mushy pile of rags and ink. The writing is yours to do and no one else’s.
Writing is you today and every day
I’ve never known a writer who didn’t spend every minute writing, even if they didn’t have a pen or a scrap of paper. The question is what do you do with all those thoughts? Do you squirrel them away for the winter so that you can trot them out on chilly nights and warm yourself by their creative glow?
No, you do not.
Stop trying to explain
Stop trying to explain. Stop asking for permission.
You have those thoughts because you are a writer, and a writer’s brain doesn’t work like other people’s. You see into others and it unnerves them. They wonder if you are watching their every move, recording everything they say, and you know what? You are. They want to know why, but you can’t explain it. And even if you could, they wouldn’t understand.
The Novel is there
A novel doesn’t come prancing in. A day’s work doesn’t stretch out on the divan.
Set yourself to writing each and every day. Don’t give yourself any slack. Just push forward. Write.
No one else is going to do it but you.