I am thirty-five years old. As of today, Saturday, November 22nd, 2014, I have been writing novels for exactly twenty years.
My novel-writing rules are strict. My essay-writing rules are not. Writing an essay about writing novels is an immediate challenge. It’d be easier to write a list of bullet points in which I discern where my novel-writing and essay-writing practices intersect. However, one of my essay-writing practices is that I try to keep the writing difficult for myself, so the bullet point list is out of the equation.
For me, essays are exercises. For me, novels are a hobby.
It’s interesting on a fundamental level (if no other level) that I am strict about my hobby and not strict at all about my exercise. Then again, you’d run laps and lift a bunch of weights in order to get in shape to — for example — play football, which is a game with strict rules, even if you’re playing it with your friends.
With that, I’ll abandon the device of metaphor. I’ll try to write about my novel-writing process with the discipline I direct at writing novels. Part of that discipline requires me to acknowledge that metaphors are stupid. An intentional metaphor is unnatural. Nature makes metaphors. If you’re writing fiction, you are making nature. If you lean on metaphors, people will read your writing and tell you that such-and-such plot point was too much of a “coincidence”. In other words, they will skip right over acknowledging that you’re telling a story, and you’re trying to be interesting, and coincidences are interesting.
Now I’m ready to talk about how I write novels.