Mainly On Not Writing a Novel

Many of us have the urge to write a novel, or even more than one. I’ve thought about writing one, but have never begun the process, for two reasons. 

One, I don’t have a story I want to tell or characters I want to write about. That’s kind of held me back.

Two, I’d probably lack the patience to develop a novel — I’d want events to move along, so any novel I wrote would end up as a short story. (An English teacher once told me I had a “spare” style. For a couple of reasons, I don’t think she was comparing the story I handed in to one of Hemingway’s.) 

The Spanish novelist Javier Marias has written several novels, including successful ones. Nevertheless, he’s also written an enjoyable little article for the Threepenny Review called “Seven Reasons Not to Write Novels and Only One Reason to Write Them”. It’s worth reading, even if you’ve never had the urge in question. Having been surprised and impressed by the single reason he gives for writing one, I may reconsider.

2 thoughts on “Mainly On Not Writing a Novel

  1. I wrote a novel for Nanowrimo a couple of years ago.
    Having never done anything like that before, I knew ahead of time that it would be awful and nothing I would ever want anyone to see, but I found just the fact that I did it, that I discovered that I actually had the gumption to write a whole novel, well worth the effort.

    With self publishing, writing a novel is now almost like an extended form of blogging. Anyone who sets their mind to it can do it, and fame and fortune probably won’t follow, but you might get enough reader feedback to get satisfaction from it.

    • Two members of my family have also participated in Nanowrimo, although neither has asked me to read what they wrote. I was quite impressed. Maybe I’ll give it a shot this November. Your comparison to blogging is a good one.

      On the other hand, there’s this quote attributed to the often acerbic Christopher Hitchens: “Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.”

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