Why do I think I have to write novels?

Bumblepuppies, Blacklight Candelabra, “This week’s challenge has two parts.  You will start by creating the constraints you’ll have to work with later.  To achieve this, you will forge a chain.” We are to pose ten questions for ourselves, then answer them, and construe the answers into a blog post.


Yeah, actually. That’s freaky — it’s all about being submerged in an unnatural environment. A long time ago I wrote a story called “A Vast Chain of Dancers.” It was based on a description Aristotle had made of humanity through time. He said we are just that; a vast chain of dancers. My then-boyfriend said, “I have a little problem with a chain being vast.” I don’t think he saw what I saw; a chain as a net, as in chain-mail. I still think a chain can be vast and I still think Aristotle did a good job describing the generations of humanity, how we’re linked to each other. That was my first real writing experience. It was a story based on a then-occurring hopeless love affair.

I loved writing it and it was a way for me to make sense out of the experience I was having. I found that story — it’s as long as a novel — and I re-typed it into the hard-drive of my RIP Mac PowerBook. If I want to do anything with it, I will have to take the three extant printed versions and type it again.

Writing, which I’ve been doing as a full time job since I retired last fall, is a strange occupation. I have a novel — a good novel — published and out there. Savior. People have offered to review it (and didn’t) and I’ve solicited reviews from friends and acquaintances who then offered to review it, but none of them have. Reviews are essential for a self-published author. What this makes me wonder is if the book actually sucks and no one wants to tell me. Strangely, my cousin (whom I did not know when she read and reviewed the book) liked it better than the one most people think is better, Martin of Gfenn.

I think the novels are equally good, but the protagonist in Martin of Gfenn elicits a kind of sympathy I do not think Rudolf, the protagonist in Savior ever could. Rudolf’s story has a happy ending. As a friend said when I spoke with her about it, “Yeah, it’s OK, but I just LOVE Martin.”

It’s disturbing to me on a personal level because I know, deep inside, that Martin represents Kirk, my brother, and Rudolf is me. Kirk was a captivating character, beautiful to look at, extraordinarily talented, fun to be around, passionate and intense and doomed. While I can be charming, I’m basically introverted. Otherwise, I’m not completely ugly, moderately talented, often fun to be around, passionate and intense, I’m NOT doomed. Like the protagonist in Savior, I’m a person who has striven against my inner demons, and I have mostly managed to hold my shit together. I’m not burning my candle at both ends and giving a lovely light. I’ve already lasted the night. Prosaic.

My cousin, who loved Savior, is also such as one as I.

For whatever reason, Savior so far has only one review and while here, yes, I’m mentioning it, I haven’t really asked anyone why (and I’m not asking). Still, it’s made me wonder what is the point of writing novels. That’s a question I should either answer or forget. And so far, I haven’t decided which. Anyway, I’m am asking myself what is the point of writing novels. As for the other question? Maybe I already know that they [my readers] don’t want to hurt my feelings by telling me something I don’t want to hear.


Here’s the actual prompt for anyone who wants to give it a shot


8 thoughts on “Why do I think I have to write novels?

  1. I haven’t read any print books since all the heart surgery last March. I’ve listened to audiobooks, but I cannot focus on pages long enough to get through a full-length book. I have Savior in the bookcase in my headboard. It’s the only book there. If I read anything, Savior is up first. Why can’t I read? I’m not entirely sure. Partly physical, partly psychological. I read one novella about a month ago for the same reason i’m going to try to read Savior: because I promised. Generally, I live up to my promises, but I have not found I can easily overcome what is bothering me. I could go into more detail, but I doubt you’re interested. Just know that it’s not you. It’s me.

    • Don’t worry about it, Marilyn. Truly. Do what makes you comfortable. I think I’m just confronting another new wrinkle in a writer’s life. I also have a hard time reading a book — I think it’s because so much of my reading is what you do when you do research. It’s scattered and functional, not really leisure and pleasurable.

      • Thank you for being kind. It’s hard to admit I can’t read. I’ve always been a huge reader. I wasn’t doing a lot of print reading before the surgery, but now, I have to force myself. I can scan short things — posts on blogs — and research, but reading a whole book? It’s been a year since I could. Now, I’ve got a reading list a yard long. Just thinking about it makes me anxious. I wanted you to know it’s not your book. I’m the problem. I wish I weren’t.

  2. First, I like your response to the challenge, it was a difficult one to do, and you achieved a thought-provoking post. Second, I’d like to comment on your question to add another dimension to the discussion. I am old enough to remember making a weekly trip to the library and carefully selecting a book to read. There was a choice, but the journey and the sensory experience of touching and smelling books made the process of choosing an act to linger over and enjoy. We are now information saturated, making it hard to select from the choice that is at our fingertips literally. We are sifting, skimming and headlining in order to access as much as we can. Perhaps, this has reduced our reading skill set and we no longer know how to respond to long reads. Save the immersive, imaginative experience of the novel, I say!

  3. I loved this post so much that I had to share…reblogged on my site! Yes, I have to write, not only novels, but just about everything. It’s what I do; I’m a full-time contract tech writer and then I come home and write some more…

    • Thank you! Yeah, I’m similar. I was writing before I could read. I “wrote” and my dad “read” what I’d written. I guess he made up good stories because I never stopped. Writing for me was a mysterious key to stories.

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