You can’t just start writing a novel. You have to plan it out.
I mean, it just seems weird. You and the page. The blank, empty retina screen covered with little cat hairs. (The cats love the laptop keyboard; it’s so warm.)
There’s no structure, there’s no form. There are no people. You’re essentially creating a universe. You’re a god.
Maybe that’s why people like writing novels.
It feels tiresome to me. It feels like a lot of work. I have my own voice in my head, very strong. I guess I have my mom’s, now, too. But do I have a cacophony of characters clamoring to get out?
No, not really.
Where are they? There’s (pretty much) just me in there. Are there various parts of me? Heck yeah. But am I going to split them up into little caricatures? And how is it not just entirely arbitrary, what you write?
It wouldn’t be a terrible idea to read, like, a single page of the several writing books I own. So, yeah, long form fiction? I love reading it. Never really wanted to write it.
I did try to do National Novel Writing Month in November 2002. I got about 5,000 words in, which is farther than I had remembered, and it is sort of interesting. It’s also terrible, but it is an incomplete first novel, so of course it is.
I got 10% in, in 11 days out of a 30-day month, which means I was horribly behind the pace. The fact that I was doing this during November 2002, which was my fourth month in the Bay Area after moving here (soon to be “there”) without a job, tells me the venture was a bit of a half-assed attempt to avoid reality. I was dialing for dollars and really did not like it. I had very little energy left after canvassing at night, staying up too late (sometimes until sunrise), and then getting up (sometimes around dusk) to go canvass again.
I had also just left a young woman behind, and we were somewhat emotionally entwined at the time. She loved me in her way. She wanted to want to be with me. Maybe she only wanted to want to want to be with me. In any case, I was a source of stability. My feelings for her were strong, but I was also pretty emotionally immature and needy. (I might still be, but not like I was then.)
I used her middle name to name one of the main female characters in the story. I didn’t quite pattern the character after her, but close enough.
I never finished the story I wrote. It was a little cliched—what if the country split up into smaller countries? It’s been done. And it was kind of about the emotional journey of these two guys—one certainly a stand-in for me, but it’s difficult to remember after seventeen years.
Interesting, though, that I’m thinking about this. Sure, I’m going through old files and photos. I’m six weeks from leaving the place I’d been for just ten weeks… seventeen years ago. And everything is almost exactly the opposite!