9.02.2010

HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL

1. decide you're going to write a book.
2. tell all of your family and friends you'll be writing a 'fiction novel', because it sounds fancier than 'book'.
3. figure it can't be difficult.
4. struggle to remember the few literary terms you picked up in college and/or high school.
5. use the words 'protagonist', 'plot', and 'fiction novel' as often as you can in casual conversation.
6. manage to impress a few people.
7. decide you're pretty impressed with yourself.
8. buy a new outfit in honor of the book signing you'll be attending just as soon as you start finish your fiction novel.
9. someone tells you that 'fiction' and 'novel' are the same thing.
10. you laugh in their face and explain that fiction is a GENRE, and novel is just another word for BOOK.
11. sigh.
12. realize what kind of incompetence you'll have to deal with.
13. practice your acceptance speech for the awards your book will undoubtedly acquire.
14. make humble faces in the mirror.
15. buy a new laptop because obviously you deserve it.
16. spend a few weeks choosing a title.
17. share your new title with everyone in your immediate family. ask for opinions.
18. roll your eyes at their possible suggestions.
19. realize your mother was right when she said you were the 'special' one.
20. decide you'll have to make future literary decisions on your own.
21. begin to feel a bit lonely in your Genius, but remember Melville's epic struggles and carry on.
22. write a paragraph or two.
23. hope no one notices that the protagonist is actually you.
24. reread your first page.
25. marvel at the ease with which you concocted such literary genius.
26. pee yourself a little because you're so excited.
27. show your work to anyone who'll listen.
28. realize you have exactly ZERO idea how the publishing industry works.
29. Let Me Google That For You.
30. stumble upon the Query Shark.
31. realize 'fiction novel' is incorrect.
32. laugh at the people silly enough to ever think it was correct.
33. obviously you never did.
34. ignore the stuff you find regarding query letters. those seem stupid and weird. you'll deal with that later.
35. manage to lock yourself in your bedroom in a crazed writing frenzy and churn out 100 pages.
36. stare at your monitor in absolute amazement.
37. tell EVERYONE you know that you wrote 100 FREAKING PAGES HOLY CRAP YOU ARE SO OBVIOUSLY A GENIUS.
38. try to calculate how 100 MS Word pages would look squished into smaller book-sized pages.
39. decide you've written something closer to 200 pages.
40. grab the last Harry Potter book off your shelf. stare.
41. realize you have 600 more pages to write.
42. write.
43. force your mother to read your writing.
44. shout things like, "how is that not clear?" "it makes sense once you get to page 52!" "you're not even paying attention to the story!" and "you just don't understand."
45. roll your eyes at the indignities you must suffer for your art.
46. stop sleeping.
47. eat coffee grounds for breakfast.
48. begin to hate your day job.
49. look down at the petty 'normal' people who surround you. scoff at their 'movies' and 'dinner dates'. find peace in knowing you'll be reunited with your fictional characters soon enough.
50. remember you have a husband/wife/boyfriend/partner/roommate/animal living in your house.
51. wonder how to get rid of them.
52. forget how to use the laundry machine.
53. realize you've written another 100 pages OH GOD WATCH OUT ROWLING
54. TYPE LIKE A MADMAN.
55. type like a broken man.
56. stop answering the phone.
57. wonder why you've been wearing the same pair of socks all week.
58. call in sick to work because you have to finish this scene while you're in THE ZONE.
59. realize you have no plot.
60. google plot.
61. contemplate its importance.
62. figure 200 pages is too early for a plot in your 700 page novel.
63. kill off a character for the sake of the plot you don't have.
64. weep the loss of your fictional friend.
65. spend a few minutes staring at your toothbrush, wondering when you used it last.
66. reach 400 pages.
67. understand that writing 400 pages is better than winning the House Cup for Gryffindor.
68. consider dumping the day job. 400 pages is a pretty good indicator that you're going places.
69. 500 pages. YOU HAVE WRITTEN 500 PAGES.
70. recognize that you have no idea what you've written. not really.
71. stop yourself just to recognize the magnitude of your brilliance.
72. you've written almost 200,000 words. that's like a million term papers.
73. wonder where that smell is coming from.
74. type THE END even though you know this is only the first book in a series of five.
75. tell your mother she was right.
76. YOU REALLY ARE A GENIUS
77. you've written a book.
78. with words and letters and sentences.
79. ideas haunt you in your sleep, in the shower, while you're driving to work.
80. YOU ARE SO MUCH BETTER THAN HEMINGWAY and his flimsy book about the man and the fishing and the boat.
81. reread your book and decide it's perfect. beautiful. brilliant. a million adjectives.
82. decide you're ready to google the publishing industry a bit more. it's time to make money.
83. discover AbsoluteWrite.
84. discover Nathan Bransford.
85. discover Janet Reid.
86. The Rejectionist.
87. Pimp My Novel.
88. Kristen Nelson.
89. Rachelle Gardner.
90. read until your eyes bleed.
91. stare at your book.
92. stare at the internet.
93. stare at your book.
94. stare at the internet.
95. STARE AT YOUR BOOK.
96. STARE AT THE INTERNET.
97. cry.
98. cry.
99. cry.
100. BEGIN TO EDIT.

62 comments:

Girlinbetween said...

DESCRIBING MY LIFE
YEAHYEAH ~

Jen said...

See, writing is so obviously easy.

I would personally have liked to add brownies in the mix somewhere, but other than that, you've certainly nailed my life.

Vicki Rocho said...

You ARE the special one.

And I mean that in the BEST possible way.

Marisa Birns said...

Oh. So, I've been going about it the wrong way. Though I do have numbers 97, 98, 99 down pat.

Number 1a for me would be: get the Muse to leave the bar and come home.

Hemingway? Bah!

Theresa Milstein said...

Tahereh, this is one of the funniest things you've ever written, and you have many posts that have made me laugh out loud. This was brilliant!

We can all laugh that none of us were that bad. Probably.

Like Marisa, 97,98, and 99 are familiar territory. I am proud to say I've never used the term "fiction novel".

Sarah Enni said...

101. all those humble faces you practiced come in handy.

<3

Michele Shaw said...

How did you know? OMG! You're the one who has been stalking me all this time! Police!

April said...

Wow...amazing how some of those are dead on! Especially the crying part! haha

Matthew Rush said...

There is a certain bit of poetry in the disconnect between how easy you think it's going to be and how hard it really is, isn't there?

You, as usual, have described it beautifully Tahereh. I know that this is supposed to be funny, but I find it kind of poignant in its own sort of offhand way. There is truth in humor.

Christine Fonseca said...

Ahhhh....LOVE LOVE LOVE this~!

M. Bail said...

You know me so well.

Cathy Olliffe said...

I think I''m going to print this out and hang it on my fridge. SO FUNNY!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

LOL. Yep, that pretty much sums up the entire book writing rota. Especially the cry, cry, cry and edit. :)

Caitlin R. O'Connell said...

I noticed the subtle references to the Old Spice commercial. I see what you did there. :)

Hilarity and wisdom as always, Tahereh.

Christine Danek said...

Now I see the camera in the fan in my kitchen. I think it has the name "Tahereh" on it. You have been watching me.
Hilarious.

Bethany Mattingly said...

I was dying of laughter with this post! It was wonderful and accurate and OMG sad at the same time. At least I'm mostly passed the crying bit. Totally made my day. :)

MBW aka Olleymae said...

soooo sooo soo so true.

You forgot about the days of ignoring your novel and hoping it will improve on its own only to find it has gotten worse since last time you looked at it. mwah hah hah. (that's your WIP laughing evilly)

Janna Qualman said...

Brilliant and hilarious! Love this.

Lisa said...

LOL - perfect! Pretty much my life as a writer :)

Claire Dawn said...

91-100.

YUP!

Heather said...

Number 29 is amazing and I will be using that tool in all future meetings with morons.

Also, this post FTW!

maine character said...

You are so much better than Hemingway.

Carolyn V. said...

It's so funny and so, so true. Especially 97,98 & 99!

Christina Lee said...

Yep--it's a lot like that...

Melody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melody said...

Waaaaaaah, HOW DID YOU KNOW!?!? This is all true, especially the disappointing/needed discovery of blogs with, like, real information about the very real publishing industry.

Slushpile Slut said...

Have you been watching me?!

Thanks for the laughs, snorts & guffaws! And are u this darn witty in person?

Jck said...

Oh! Tahereh! Can't Stop LMAOL! Lots of cupcakes your way love!

Laura Marcella said...

My favorite: "38. try to calculate how 100 MS Word pages would look squished into smaller book-sized pages." LOL!

And of course 90-100 describes every writer's life!

Sumayyah said...

Yeah. That was my first novel writing experience. v.v

aspiring_x said...

and after editing- you realize you need to just rewrite the darn thing... if it's a complete mess.. if it's not easily fixable... if.. your.. me. :(

this was so so true and HILARIOUS!

Elaine AM Smith said...

Great fun post Tahereh.
I'm sure I obsessed over the increasing word count too - don't miss that out.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Absolutely brilliant! I quoted you on my blog today because, well, you're so quotable! Way to capture the writer's experience and shame! Laughing about it somehow makes it less painful. :-D

wordver "polypols": multiple types of polyester crammed into one hideous sweater.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Do you ever get tired of being so brilliant?! This was absolutely spot-on - though I never said fiction novel. Seriously. No, seriously! :-)

Talli Roland said...

I love the 'fiction book' line. That's my favourite! It does sound better than a novel. :)

Marsha Sigman said...

Quit freakin' spying on me!!!! It's creeping me out.

And that smell was my kid...not me.

I swear.

Sarah E Olson said...

"It's funny 'cause it's true."
~Homer Simpson

coffeelvnmom said...

All I have to say is, thank goodness I'm not the only one.

Ezmirelda said...

You nailed it perfectly, haha.

Katherine C said...

AWESOME

This is sort of like my experience. Only I didn't let my mom read it and I never called it a fiction novel. Otherwise ... yes.

Jess said...

I'm on #97. What's that? Do I see some light at the end of this soggy tissue tunnel? Oh my! Only 3 more steps to go!

;) You are awesome, as always!

Janine said...

my poor mom. She doesn't even know how lucky she was to be yanked into the process on my second draft.

I weep for her future sanity. Mine is a lost cause.

M.J. Horton said...

I love you so much right now. <3

Krispy said...

Only 100 steps! Who knew it was so easy!

On another note, that googling for me thing is kind of cool, but also kind of scary like you've taken control of my computer or something...

E. Elle said...

Yet another perfect post from one of the best[ies] on the web! You've made the process so clear to me.

But oh no! Now the world will be onto us.... ;o)

JennaVictoria said...

This post should be added to "Tahereh's Best" collection - stat. I linked to the column on my FB page - you totally rocked it!

Brad Jaeger said...

So true. But add in Miss Snark as well.

Jaleh D said...

Bwahahahahaha!

Too funny!

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Hehehe, oh the comical agony. We writers should make some kind of support group.

PK Hrezo said...

Oh, that gave me a good hearty chuckle!So true, So true1 LOL!

Lenny said...

hi miss tahereh! a lot of this was soooo funny and lots of its true. i got laughing real hard at 26.pee yourself a little because you're so excited. ha ha and i thought
44 was real funny too. ha ha. im thinking you should add practicing signing your name for all those book signing tours youre gonna be going on. :)
...smiles and laughs from lenny

SH said...

Haha, that's exactly what I'm doing right now, stare at story, stare at internet :P. It's great how you went through the whole process like that. Don't think I could ever write 500 pages though.

Jan Markley said...

Frawesome post (hybrid of fricken and awesome). Loved 'kill off a character for the sake of the plot you don't have.' LOL!

Jessica Lawlor said...

I absolutely love this! SO true.

J.C. Martin @ Fighter Writer said...

*LOL* So true! Story of my life, although mine includes #101: beat other people up to vent frustration. ;)

Shalet Jimmy said...

That's cool tips. I will these instructions.

Shalet Jimmy said...

I mean I'll use these instructions.

Deniz Bevan said...

Laughing so hard I'm crying, but only because I'm at the editing stage...

Elisa said...

Omg, number 23, is so me. And the remembering I live with my b/f and wondering how to get rid of him...yeah. It's probably not healthy for our relationship when I'm trying to think of ways to get rid of him so I can write.

What's scarier, is not how accuratetly this describes me, but how accurately it describes so many, lol.

Trisha said...

Love this. Lots. Great job :)

Meaghan said...

I loved this, and I'm really glad I found your blog today :-)

Akira Villalpando said...

Great! :) I gotta follow those steps literally and I'm gonna write my first ever novel! AT 17! :D Now, seriously, some of those tips actually *are* good. :B Especially those that have links.

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