National Novel Writers Month
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we do all we can for dumped deities! Won't you join us?
One of the biggest bummers about being immortal, I suppose, is that inevitably you run out of novels to read, even if you read every novel ever written about 15 times.
If you wonder why some bored gods are grumpy, try reading a Nora Roberts novel 15 times.
My college professors had even worse news for the bored gods. The professors said that every story that could be told had been told, and that the novel was a dead art form. They called themselves "postmodernists." I called them morons. But only after my grades had been posted.
November is National Novel Writers Month. You're supposed to write a 50,000-word novel between November 1 and November 30. They give prizes out and everything.
On your mark, get set, go.
Only I gotta warn ya, novelist-to-be: You ain't gonna get it right in 30 days. The only people who have ever done that are Shakespeare and Jack Kerouac. The former really needed the dough, and the latter spiked his cigarettes with something you can't buy at the farmer's market.
This month, ironically, I will be correcting the proofs of my own novel. The one that took me 15 years to write.
As far as my novel goes, it's like that old story of the farmer and his axe. The farmer said: "This is such a great axe. I've had it all my life. I've only had to replace the handle three times and the axe head four times, so that's one damned fine axe."
I do not consider myself a good candidate for National Novel Writers Month. But that's just me. If you can crank out a spiffy story in a heck of a hurry, go for it! The bored gods will lap it up and roar for more!
Some people say, "I would love to write a novel, but I don't have any ideas." Okay, if that's you, you can write a novel about your inability to write a novel. Then you're a postmodernist, and you can get a cushy job at some university where all the buildings look like failed sand art.
The other side of the coin: "I would love to write a novel. I have so many ideas. I just can't seem to get them down on paper." Well, that's just fine. Think of the trees you'll save from being pulped, and get right on with your life. No one will think worse of you, trust me.
Other people say, "I would love to write a novel, but all the people I know will recognize themselves in it, and they'll want to kill me." Put down that pen! The life you save may be your own.
Here's one I really love: "I'm writing a children's book about my cat. Do you know where I can get it published?" If this is you, take a number and be seated. Do not refresh the page, or you will lose your place in line. Rest assured, your children's book is important to us. Please wait for the next available operator. Click. Line dead. Dial tone.
The once-famous and now nearly-forgotten writer Samuel Johnson (no relation) said: "Only an imbecile would write for anything but money."
I respectfully disagree with this particular Johnson, although Johnsons are hardly ever wrong about anything.
Taking up writing because you want to make money is like taking up fishing because you want to haul in Moby Dick with your hand-tied lure. Somewhere, I'm sure, there's some beefy, beered-up dude who cast a regular old line into the deep and bagged a mighty orca. Experience tells me that this does not happen every day.
Write first to entertain yourself. If you're able to entertain yourself, try out what you've written on a few people whose opinions won't crush you like a bug. If they like it, you might have something good on your plate.
As for me and my novel, I threw it at a number of folks over the years, from fellow scribes to literary agents to my sister (who hated it -- a promising sign). Lo and behold, the doggone manuscript finally landed in a little heap of fertile soil. But long before that happened, I entertained myself for years with the story and the characters. They strutted and fretted for me, and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Good luck with your November novel-writing! Enjoy yourself! Just please remember to set aside time every day to come visit us here at this sunny little site. Think of it as a much-needed break to reduce writer's cramp.
THE BUZZARD OF BERKELEY SPRINGS
(Someone left a comment that only men could be merlins, so I'm resorting to my true totem animal in order to clear up any confusion.)