I don’t know who said it first, but it’s been said before and it’s the absolute truth—“I don’t know how to write a novel. I only know how to write the last one.” There’s a lot of Zen in that statement, because the clear implication is, as the Zen masters would say, “It’s always the first time.” It certainly applies here. I’ve written either ten or eleven novels before now. I honestly do not remember the number. I could go to my works list and count them, but the exact number isn’t the point, because this applies whether it’s one novel or a hundred plus. No, the point is that I now know how to write those novels, because I’ve already done them. Which is a very roundabout way of saying that I’m in the process of learning how to write the current novel. By the time I’m done, I’ll have figured it out and, having figured it out, I won’t be doing it again. A tad ironic, yes, but there it is. Continue reading
We’re kind of at the point where nothing is happening, but that nothing has to happen in just the right way. By which I mean that I’m well into the book and at the stage, which lasts just about until, oh, the time that stage ends, when I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know what’s going to happen except perhaps in broad strokes, and I still have to figure out how to write this book. And to those who say, you damn well should know how to write a novel by now, I can only answer (cribbing from a colleague of mine), “Of course I know how to write a novel. I know how to write the one I finished last. Ask me anything about To Break the Demon Gate and I can tell you. Ask me about The War God’s Son, and I can only stare at you, and possibly drool a little. One of the few things I know for certain is that I’m approaching the 10,000 word threshold. Why is it a threshold? Because I say it is. Or a mile marker. Kind of the same thing in this context.
None of this is especially worrisome to me. I don’t know how everyone else does it, but I go through this every time I write anything, be it short story or novel or blog post. It’s just that with a novel it is far more obvious, and the stage lasts longer. I’m not worried, but if I had any sense I would be. Sometimes sense isn’t your friend.
As for the picture, that’s what the sky dropped on us Monday. I’ve got a couple of big dents in the truck roof and a thoroughly cracked windshield. Other people got worse, though we’ll have to let the insurance adjuster inspect our new roof to make sure it wasn’t totalled. Real life waits for no novel. I don’t think ‘real life’ is a reader.