Sunday, July 14, 2013

About about

Attempted yet again to start writing a novel today. As usual, I managed one paragraph before giving up. It feels so frivolous. With any given story, the question is: Why? Why am I writing this particular story? What I really want to write about is myself, but my life isn't novel-shaped. Or it feels like a novel that's only a third of the way through, nowhere near complete, so how can I make that into a complete novel? But when I try to write fiction in the first person, that "I" always ends up being me. It's hard to write "I" and not feel me. I don't have much imagination. Maybe it feels weird to write about other people because I feel so mystified by other people. I don't feel qualified to write about people, because I don't know anything about people. I may not know myself either—it's up for debate—but at least I know my thoughts, confused as they may be. I don't know other people's thoughts, and I don't feel comfortable guessing. I think a lot of what novelists do is just to guess what is going on inside other people's heads. They always seem so certain too. Confident and authoritative. You have to be both in order to write fiction. That seems to be a rule.

Just the notion of writing about things makes me feel tired. With poetry, the writing and the things are one and the same. I don't worry about about in poetry.

I have trouble concentrating too. The incredible powers of concentration required to sit down day after day for hours at a time and work on a novel—it's too daunting.


  1. Exactly - I can't imagine how Tolstoy did it! But I might suggest you find a writer's group to hash these ideas with.

  2. I have started two novels in the last year with two totally separate stories, so I think I am having a similar "why this particular story?" problem.

    Imagination is hard to force. Don't worry about adding great new content every day -- I don't think any good novel was ever completed that way. I find that certain images I see or phrases that I hear (or read) just grip me and I can't shake loose of them. Sooner or later they'll wind up in my fiction.

    And a writers' group can indeed be a great help.