Write That Damn Novel


I don’t know about you but this is the year I finish that @#$#@%!  novel.

I got two hundred pages of rough stuff. Real rough stuff.

The first novel. The one I’m allowed to be cavalier about, right?

The one people will say, provided it ever gets published: oh that was just his first novel. That’s why it was so childish and so preoccupied with sex and werewolves and time travel.

(But wait: we like those things!)

I could spend years working on it and postponing it and shoving it to the side so I can submit short stories to hundreds of magazines and wait six months to hear back from each of them.

But before I go off the handle, we should take to heart Colson Whitehead’s suggestion for January.

That’s right: shut the f-up and work on your novel.

On that note, it’s always insightful when other writers offer their own published work as ongoing exercises in craft. Because no matter how much you write, the craft-part can still elude you. And you’ll end up with nothing.

At Ecstatic Days, Mr Vandermeer tackles one of the critical parts of the novel, which will no doubt continue hampering my own progress: the beginning.

He serves up the beginning to his recent novel Finch, along with some possible beginnings and asks you, the reader and writer, to give feedback.

It is a great experiment I’d like to see more of from published authors.

It gives me hope that my own tentative beginning to my novel which features a fire in an apartment complex, a food fight, a congregation of greaser bikers, fishnet stockings and a long walk to a haunted park will someday be salvageable.

Michael Berger is a barely-published writer and book-seller living in San Francisco. He is one of the founding Corsairs of the Iron Garters Bike Club and is currently pursuing a degree in applied pataphysics. He sometimes eats oatmeal for dinner. More from this author →