A Note To Myself About Writing Novels




If writing novels is your calling and you write an ideal novel, you will be not only a philosopher but an artist as well, for only a lover of wisdom and revealer of truth can write an ideal novel. The great ‘poets’ of old were philosophers, ‘makers’ not of truth but of revelations – for the truth is always there to be seen after the chisel is applied to mute stone.

Other than writing poetry, what occupation could be more divine than novel-writing? And today the best novel might be a freely styled prose-poem. What? Never mind. You will be the creator, the creating, and the creation, namely, Maya. You will be the author, and, in the process, the several different characters under your investigation. You will be the synthesis of the universal and particular. What could be more godly than this sacred calling?

Do not worry about your lack of credentials. Great novels have been produced with a grammar school education. Mind you, however, that schooling in “grammar,” in the broadest sense of the word, means nothing less than the study of the best world literature produced by human beings. If you want good criticism, why seek it from amateurs? Compare your work to the finest work of the best masters. Let the virtual universe of the best discourse be your mother’s milk. Then build your mental field and even social scientists will come to play – philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, psychoanalysts.

And do not worry too much about your own sanity if you would succeed – but please do stay out of mental hospitals and prisons, and keep yourself tethered to at least one understanding yet realistic friend. It actually helps to be a bit mad to be a productive author. At least if you are mad about writing you will not be constipated by writer’s blocks; if anything, you will suffer bouts of logorrhea. Don’t throw anything away at first, no matter how incoherent it seems, then find yourself rooting around the garbage can for the good ideas that looked bad because of a bad mood. Let your natural excretions dry out for awhile, come back to them, play with them, mold them into blocks, then apply the chisel – you might wind up with some of your best stuff.

‘Madness’ might be the wrong word for the writer’s motivation, but, my dear Altar Ego, let’s not go nuts over finding just the right one. Let us say, to put it euphemistically, that a person must be ‘neurotic’ to withdraw from reality to make a living writing novels, especially now that the civilized world is filled with competing neurotics and inflated with twin delusions of persecution and grandeur – who would want to persecute a nobody? The world really is out to get you one way or another and will get you in the end. Taste the narcissus for relief and gaze into the pool to know thyself. Don’t worry, listen to Socrates: the cosmos is in the microcosm – a global psychology can be found in a single case study. But remember, just say “yes” to the nymphs.

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