WRITING NOVELS: THE PLAYGROUND FACTOR

17 Sep

 

Novelists are the luckiest writers. We can do virtually anything and call it a novel. Novel isn’t quite a default definition of literature, but it’s close. Moby Dick: Melville stops for a hundred pages to give us an essay about whaling. War and Peace: Tolstoy stops telling us about Natasha and Pierre, but goes on for another hundred and fifty pages about his theory of history — which he has already explained. Richard Adams writes a long book about a bunch of Rabbits. Patrick Dennis writes a comic jag about his Auntie Mame. Junot Diaz writes about Oscar Wao and defines him through the lens of eighties pop cultural references which he discusses in detail. There are novels in blank verse, novels in which two editions exist, one for men, one for women, in which six words differ from one to the other, novels illustrated with tipped-in color plates of famous paintings. There are novels in which nothing happens and novels in which nothing happens but things happening. All novels.

So stop worrying about what will sell. Nobody knows that. Get out on the playground. Hit the sandbox, put in some time on the swings, maybe do the slide. The bell’s not going to ring any time soon, and you might as well enjoy yourself.

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