The title says it all. I could just leave this space blank. The way to not write a novel is to not write. Or the way to not write a novel is to start and then stop writing. The way to not write a novel is to not dedicate yourself to it, to not develop the habit of writing, to expect it to be perfect first time around, beginning to end. If you get that far.
For me the way to not write a novel also includes talking about it. I don’t talk about my specific projects except to other writers, and even then I am selective. I tried once talking about a work-in-progess. I wanted to seem as though I was confident, and knew what I was doing with this novel, so I spoke about it publicly. I gave a brief summary that didn’t reveal very much. I mentioned the setting. I said the characters’ names. They didn’t like it. That’s all I can say. The story left me. It did not want to be paraded about. It wanted a private, intimate relationship with me. It wanted a partnership. It was not ready for relationship with anyone else. That’s what publication is for.
I know all this makes me sound like a nutcase. That’s okay. I am a bit of a nutcase. I believe in things we don’t know. I believe in working intuitively. It’s not always comfortable, and it doesn’t give me confidence, but that’s the point. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just doing it. It’s very hard to understand that for many writers, it’s a blind grope into a story. It’s stepping off a cliff. Sometimes we are caught by our characters, and sometimes we are allowed to crash to the bottom of story the canyon. But that’s the process. Always there’s a point of stepping out into the unknown, be it the stage of plotting a novel, if plotting’s your thing, or the stage of writing it for someone like me, who flies by the seat of her pants. Novels are unknown until they are written. And even then, throughout the process, they reveal themselves slowly, sometimes reluctantly. You have to keep showing up. You have to be committed.
It’s easy to not write a novel.
Elizabeth Emerson said:
Thanks, Nancy. I enjoyed this reminder that so much of writing is simply our intuition leading us.