Ten Reasons Not to Write Your Novel

Just because you speak English does not mean you can write English. Your boss is proof of that.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

1. Just because you speak English does not mean you can write English. Your boss is proof of that.

2. Someone has already written your novel, and better than you ever could. Certainly you've visited a bookstore, picked up a new release novel the plot summary of which filled you with loathing. "That's the idea I had," you mutter. See? What did I tell you?

3. And any way, the best novels are not about plot -- they're about good writing. Which you are not. That is to say, well, you get what I mean. I hope.

4. Writing a novel is way more work than you think (or remember if you've already written a novel). It's like building a house: you start with excavation and mud and rocks and groundwater you hadn't counted on, continue with dubious characters who seldom show up at the right time, nothing turns out exactly like you had in mind, everything is over budget, and it takes months if not years to finish, by which time you hate the place.

5. Instead of writing a novel, why not focus on, say, sex? Imagine that you give your wife, husband or partner the same amount of attention that you lavish on this, this idea -- these voicesthat you can't get out of your head. Imagine what perfection you would attain in the sack! Think of how heroic and loved you would be!

6. Substitute parenthood for sex (above).

7. Writing a novel is in large part a matter of expressing your dissatisfaction with, if not avoidance of, real life. Consider bringing this up with your therapist -- but do not let him talk about his novel. Remember, it's your dime.

8. Do not bore other people by discussing the novel that you're not going to write any way.

9. Think of the trees. Or, if you e-publish, the precious metals mined by children in fourth world countries to make your laptop's computer chips so you can sit in some coffee shop and peck away.

10. Unfortunately, there are many of you who can neither do the math nor read the writing on the wall. A famous journalist--it might have been Eric Severaid--once encountered an eager, aspiring writer at a cocktail party. "I have my degree, I've read everything I can, and I want to go into journalism," the young woman began.

"Don't," Sevareid said brusquely, and moved on.

A friend took Sevareid to task for dashing the student's dreams.

Sevareid shrugged. "If she listens to me, she's not ready to be a writer. If she's really got it in her, she''ll do it any way."

Popular in the Community