Writing a novel, to me, is akin to climbing a mountain. I stand at the base staring up at the pinnacle and become so mesmerized at the view that it’s difficult to take the first step. When I finally do, I become overwhelmed at how much farther I have to climb and consider not climbing at all.

It is time I started another novel–there is one waiting in the far recesses of my mind, like an octopus beneath a coral reef, occasionally putting out a feeler or two, prodding quite painfully into my conscious mind. I will have to respond, I can see; dive down and haul it out, and up into shallower, brighter waters, where I can get a good look at it…. Fay Weldon

Perhaps this is why short stories and anecdotes are such a joy for me to write. I get an idea, I follow it through, I develop it, manipulate it, examine it and end it! The novel keeps on going and going and going….It’s easier for me to break up “the big picture” into actions that need to be revealed, events and happenings, and then I can link them all together…

“Most of the difficulty I have is with the form. To find the sentence, the unit of speech, and how long or how short should the chapter be. Should the novel be in three parts or two parts? Should it have an epilogue and a prologue? All my work is very architecturally structured…” Joyce Carol Oates

But I’ll get nowhere if I don’t take that first step. How do I keep from staring at the pinnacle? How do I keep from appraising how much farther? How do I break down the big picture? Perhaps Joyce Carol Oates is giving me a hint? For now, the answer is simply, “write!” Putting the ideas down, finding enjoyment in the steps, the climb. Yes, the big picture may not be helpful when what is necessary is simply to step forward.

“Character gives us qualities, but it is in actions–what we do–that we are happy or the reverse….All human happiness and misery take the form of action”– Aristotle


3 thoughts on “Novels

  1. I’m in the middle of writing a paper and I came upon this post. I’m hoping to send some encouragement to you…I don’t remember her exact words, but Joyce Carol Oates also compared writing a novel to being naked and crawling through broken glass. Anyway…Write! Keep writing! (Reading your blog keeps me inspired (and your wonderful column on Basenotes). I can’t imagine how wonderful your novel is going to be. (My motives are completely selfish). 🙂

  2. tovah – thanks so much for the encouragement, perfect timing…well, off to go write an academic manuscript…alas, it’s not the novel, but it’s writing nonetheless…

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