My friend Hugh is writing a novel for NaNoWriMo. I wanted to write a novel, but it was hard to get started. Anyway, Hugh has been threatening to write one, but he never followed through. Until now. But before we get too excited, he only really wrote for one day so far. The goal is to write at least 50,000 words during the month of November. If you start on November 1st and do it religiously, or even sacreligiously, you will get there if you write 1,700 words per day. Since this is the 20th of November, that means that 2/3rds of the month are gone already, so you have to write like, 5,000 words a day. Hugh says he wrote 2,000 words. Not enough. But Stephen King has a goal to write 2,000 words a day, and that he does that every day, even Christmas and Arbor Day.
Anyway, I have a lot of ideas for novels, but I don’t put them down on paper. I think about the reasons for this resistence, and there is one where you think you’re not good enough. For instance, my cousin was a genius, and he wrote and published a really great novel, before he turned 21. Then he wrote another novel, and he had one that he told people he was working on, and no one knows what ever happened to it. There is a movie, Wonder Boys, where Michael Douglas plays a professor who has written a great novel, but he is working on a new one, and it is like thousands of pages. He dines out on it, and keeps his publisher at bay, telling him it’s not finished, but it is going to be great. Resting on his laurels, he is a professor, and whenever he finds a new promising talent, he bitterly tries to sabatoge them. Let’s see. There is another movie where Glenn Close plays the wife of a writer who is awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature, but she is actually his ghostwriter. Don’t know what that has to do with me. What is the other thing? Well, I think there is this thing that you might write about people you know, or yourself, and then you offend people, or reveal more than you’d like about yourself. That is a big block for some writers, not me personally, because I have a clean record like a choir boy, and not an actual choir boy, but the pure innocent one you pictured in days gone by. You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe kind of has a lot of stuff about this. There were a lot of people from his home town who realized he had written about them and they didn’t like what he said. Also, there were people who wanted to latch onto him because of his fame, even other writers. One was supposedly based on Sinclair Lewis. Finally, he had all these pages, kind of like the professor in Wonderboys. What really happened was Maxwell Perkins or another editor put it all together and fixed it. Hmmmmm? What if Thomas Wolfe had a computer?
Anyway, the days of having an editor like Maxwell Perkins to help a writer shape a novel are over. That could be good or bad, depending on how good the editor is, if he helps or hurts you, but it could be good. Having the computer to help you edit is also a good thing, but it could be kind of letting you become lazy.
I wish Hugh luck, but hell, he only wrote for one day. Sure it’s one day more than I’ve written, but we’ll see if he sticks with it. Also, I think he has been stealing my ideas. I have told him a ton of ideas I have had for books, and that might be part of the problem, because once I have told my story, I don’t really have the sense of urgency . . .
Excuses for not writing a book are like saying your dog ate your homework. And you only soaked it in gravy.