Writing a novel is so romantic!

Novelists, non-fiction writers, and graffiti scribblers, this blog is for you. (I put in the graffiti part so they don’t tag my blog.)

Everybody who has ever tried to figuratively put pen to paper has heard them, the comments from non-writers who envy your ability to not only form a coherent sentence, but to write lots of them, interspersed with mystical stuff like dialogue, page numbers and chapters.

“I could never do that.”
“How long did it take you?”
“What’s it about?”
“Have you sold it yet?”
“What made you do that?”
“Where do you get your ideas?”

And the always popular…
 “I have this great idea for a book…could you help me?”

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with these questions, either…fess up, writers, you’ve actually asked every one of them yourself, right? I know I have. It’s the premise that’s wrong…there’s not one damned thing romantic about writing a novel.

Zip, zilch, nada.

Writing a novel is emotionally draining, lonely, hard-ass work, that almost always leads to heaps of rejection, anxiety, depression and self-doubt. Doesn’t that sound romantic? (Actually, if you like Russian literature, maybe it does.)

So why do it? Because writers are masochists? Ego-maniacs? Demented? Probably all three. However, I’m not going to answer this for you. Not because I don’t like you, you know I love each and every one of you, but I figure you can read my thoughts any time.

Instead, I’ve asked fellow novelist Mica Scotti Kole to help me with her experiences. Mia writes young adult/adult fantasy. And for those with dirty minds, no, it’s not what you think. Those are writer jargon we romantic novelist types throw around to keep non-writers guessing. Without further ado…

1. What do your friends say when they discover you wrote a novel? When I tell someone I wrote a book, I tend to get a “Really? That’s so cool!” reaction. It’s rewarding, but also mystifying, to hear that people think writing a book is such a feat. It’s as if I’ve just announced I climbed Everest. But to me, writing a book is second nature. It’s time-consuming, but easy. I wish more people would be like, “Oh. Cool I guess. Have you edited the whole thing? Five times? No way, that’s awesome!” Because really, anyone can write a book; but how many people can dedicate themsany personal project to that extent?

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2-3 Do they have any questions about it? The number-one question I get is “What’s it about?” God, I hate that question. When you write fantasy, trying to describe it always makes you sound foolish or mad, and listener’s eyes just cloud over. I don’t know what the everyday person’s idea of “a book” is, but it’s never a fantasy. I try to keep my summary short, but I usually veer off, trying to recapture their respect even as it’s fading before my eyes. I really need to stick to my pitch and query and memorize them as responses.
4. When did you begin writing? I’ve been writing my series since I was about ten years old (so, 15 years plus). However, I Will Teach You, Then didn’t really begin until late 2008. It was born from a dream, where it then became a short story in a class, and it just sat around until I entered the 3DayNovel contest to flesh it out as a novel about two years ago. So, it’s grown from a single image in a dream to a 130,000-word book over about 7 years. (Now it needs to stop growing and shrink… ergh.)
5. Is there a process you follow in writing? Outline. Break outline. Repeat.
6. Given the level of rejection writers face, why do you do it? I write because I have people inside me, and I don’t want to die before other people hear their stories. It’s like I’m a character in a book myself: I have a unique power and face insurmountable odds; I will never feel like I’m the best person to do it, but I’m the only person who can do it; and my quest is to save an entire world from nonexistence. The best thing about that, too, is that you get to live in that world just like a character would, outside the bore that is normal human experience. The sheer act of creation feels so important and pure, like nothing else I have ever done, or will do.

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