To Be or Not To Be…a Novelist

copyright 2011 Patrice Stanton

A novelist may get their start as a diary writer working in a battered spiral bound notebook and with a future readership of one, or perhaps in a classroom via a shaky first attempt at a creative writing assignment they’re reluctant, then forced, to read aloud in a blushing, stammering performance for an equally reluctant audience of ten. No matter…so long as they and their writing finally got ‘begun’. Most people when asked, “Ever thought about writing a book?” if honest will say, “Yes,” no matter their age or background. The reason for this near universal dream is as similar as the grade school crush gone bad is to the present day problem-boss problem: everyone knows what they’d like to do but admitting it aloud in the real world is just too risky. If that’s you, dear reader, the question of should you or shouldn’t you become a ‘novelist’ will be all but answered after noting your bent in three areas: instant gratification; access to unlimited power over countless others; and lastly, the ability to alter the flow of Time.

First, for most of us, is that greatest of all obstacles to living the life-we’ve-dreamed-of: The Waiting. Would there be so darn many different microwave meals, so many drive-up coffee shops, overnight wrinkle creams, or software programs to make us an instant GuitarPro, FootballPro, or Perfectly-Bilingual-in-a-week if our society wasn’t so chronically impatient? As a writer, however, you’ll soon have a distinct immunity to that corporate ill. No writer waits for summer vacay to ‘escape’ – they kick back and plunk their heroine on the beaches of Mazatlan now. They then have her dream guy sidle on over with slushy margaritas and by doing so they kiss their (and by design, that very heroine’s) blues goodbye. Got no money or skills for that Everest climb or solo Siberian ski-tour? No waiting and no problem – after 10 minutes research, 15 tops, on the Internet it’ll be ditto on your kicking back and sidling-up of a hero or heroine at your command who’ll slog onwards and upwards as skillfully as you desire despite your gutless fear of frostbite and sudden mountaintop blizzards. Cool, you’re thinking, but what about real people. Okay, you’re right…as great as using all that imagination is sometimes the real world must be lived in and real idiots must be dealt with.

In that real world much too often it’s the same ‘ol generic rebuff, “You don’t look anything like your picture,” or it can get even worse and even more generic with, “You’re not really my type.” But soon, if you choose to become a novelist you can turn the tables on all of them with a simple 15-word secret writer’s retort. Becoming a writer can, thereby, actually ‘pay off’ in intangible ways before your pen goes to paper if you so desire; this comeback, without so much as your lifting of a finger can turn you into “their type” and by more than a teensy bit. If you can live with being a teensy bit ‘misleading’ go ahead and emphasize the word ‘new’ in the retort; it leads the hearer to believe you’re actually writing your second novel which, while clearly not true is equally clearly their mistake – by the Law of Multiplication it also makes you doubly impressive. As a writer it goes without saying you’ll have the last word with the ‘creatures of your own imagination’, but learn these ‘15-words’ and you’ll never be left speechless in the real world again. And there’s nothing like having the last word. Nothing. See what I mean?

Lastly, as a writer you’ll never again wish you could bend the stream-of-Time to fit more in each day or dream of going into the future to see all the wonders that await, because from Day 1 that is in fact your ‘job description’. Ever claimed ‘boredom’ or barely made it through a series of seemingly dead-end days? Kiss those maladies goodbye ‘forever’. As a novelist Time will be your new friend. Did. It. Pass. Too. Slowly. Before? Well, prepare to wonder where all the days, weeks, and soon, where all those previously empty years have gone! By spending countless amounts of ‘it’ planning your characters every fashion favorite and foible, thinking through scenes first ‘this way’ then ‘that’, and spending even more of ‘it’ wondering, then worrying about ‘plotting’ before you know it you’ll find yourself smack dab in the middle of your mid-life crisis. No worries, though, you’ll respond just like a writer should: by picking up pen or laptop – not by blowing your retirement on either the ubiquitous overpriced sportscar or frighteningly overtaut facelift – and promptly write yourself straight out of it. Wow, we’ve come a long way, haven’t we?

The time to wrap up your decision is about here now that we’ve looked at three of the biggest pluses to becoming a novelist (there are many more reasons for doing so that can’t be included): how you can “have it all” right here and right now; how you’ll always have the last word with both real and imaginary folks thanks to our special ‘retort’; and how writers have, in their possession, their own priceless Time Machine within which escape from the uncertain middle years (or even decades) after high school graduation and up-to-but-not-including the deathbed days is virtually guaranteed. So which path will you take to write your novel: a high-speed autobahn-like “30 Days to the Perfect Manuscript” or the winding back roads of “30 Years of Keyboard ‘Great Escaping’”?

“Neither,” you reply, “there’s got to be a more constructive way to spend my spare time.”

“1)What’s 2)wild,” I’ll then say coolly, casually, after having been rebuffed soundly (yet cogently in this case, by you), “3)is 4)you’re 5)crazy-6)close 7)in 8)nearly 9)every 10)way 11)to 12)my 13)new 14)novel’s 15)villain.”

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