This Novel, A River

Writing a novel is like building a river.

There must be a source, first and foremost. This is the idea. The essential truth of the story.

Imagine it as the river, as the story itself.

It has a full potential, which must be coaxed from the source until it flows freely to its logical end.

Barriers must be removed. If the river has flown smoothly but reaches a block, one must go back and redirect it, coax it onward unto a smoother path forward, a more logical one.

This is where revision comes into play. One must have the capacity to kill their darlings. They must be willing to commit the act in broad delight, to banish entire pages, entire thought structures, entire narratives from existence to make way for something potentially greater.

It is an ongoing process of transformation, birth, death, rebirth, death, and so on and so forth.

Like the formation of a river, a novel is not written overnight. The essential concept must be fully understood before it can be fully fleshed out. Once fully understood, it will naturally and easily flow downstream to its resolution and completion. This is the inevitable trajectory of a novel. One need not force it. The river knows how it wants to unfold. One need not trudge forward in a race to the finish. Who the heck are you racing anyways? We are not operating from a scarcity of time. We are operating from a wealth of it.

If my final aim is success and wealth, sure, sure, time is of the essence, rush forward, force the characters onto the page, spit out some ending, send it off, and most likely fail. But if my final aim is to write a cohesive, concise, powerful, impassioned novel, then time is irrelevant; to enjoy it, to simply delight in its creation is the point of it, enjoy the transformation, the death, the letting go, the rebirth, to dispense with fears entirely of success or failure. That is the road of the novelist. Hundred people may hate this book. But if one person is changed by it, is that not a reward in itself?


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