Why You Should Never Write A Novel

Nov. 28, 2012
memeI've written for Pitchfork, Vice, Chunklet, Daily Dot, PopMatters, and I have unpublished fiction like everyone else

Because you might be tempted to open it with a cute rodent. Because someone will blog about it. Because its most poignant moments will be debilitated by nudges and winks, unless you’re very careful, and no one is very careful anymore because who has time. Because it’ll either be serious but dry or earnest but clunky. Because it won’t be printed on paper. Because no one reads. Because how much is there to say, we’ve had millions of years together, we’ve said everything there is to say about a man and a woman and a creator and a place we all live.

Because it doesn’t matter, it’s all the same people writing the same things and no one gets a chance unless they’ve gone to the right school or know the right guy at the right publishing house or the right girl at the right online journal who publishes all the experimental fiction which everyone wants to RT. Because you’re nothing if your short story about a bear eating a steak with a golem in downtown Manhattan hasn’t had 50 Favorites and you’ve gotten that gold star from the website that gives out gold stars. Because you have to have 50 likes, or, at least more likes than that story published on the same website, the one you pore over and tell others is ‘so dumb,’ the one about a crow who eats a chicken with a troll in downtown Brooklyn.

Because if you write one it means you have a brain which can only survive on the praise of others, a brain that craves constant attention and needs a picture taken in public so the cows and the wedgie-givers back home can see a woman with slim jeans and dark wavy hair and a tasteful amount of cleavage holding the hand of the one they used to call fudgepacker.

Because what’s the point, the earth is going to melt, maybe sooner than later, maybe even sooner than when you finish it, maybe sooner than I finish writing this. Because you could have been doing so many other things with your precious little time. Because you could have been breathing fresh air, making love under stars, telling someone how much, truly for the first time how much, everything they’ve done has meant.

Because someone already wrote Easter Parade, The Temptation of Eileen Hughes, Angel. Because someone already wrote Stoner, O Pioneers, A Sport and a Pastime. Because someone already wrote something better than you will ever write.

Because you’ll never make a career of it, not unless you get incredibly lucky, and that’s even if you’re already very good. Because it’s like being the best choice possible for something then meeting thousands of other best possible choices and having to win a lottery among them all.

Because Kafka wanted all his writing burned and what makes you think you won’t want the same when you die, and won’t that be such a waste?

Because those who write them often kill themselves, Wallace, Plath, Toole, these are just a few names, but then there’s many more you haven’t even heard of. Because not only was the disease in their brain telling them to kill themselves — the same disease you cultivate by writing — but also there is the crushing sense of alienation from never achieving a dream and so you, like they, will die long before you should have and you didn’t get to see your children grow up and you didn’t get to tell anyone how much anyone truly meant and you didn’t get to make love under the stars ever again.

Because, if you don’t have one already, you need to get an M.F.A. and everyone knows an M.F.A is a degree which exists only because, money.

Because you might call your main character Skrimshander, which is distracting, no matter what famous book you found it in. Because your editor was the one who allowed the last name of your main character to be Skrimshander and that’s one of the best editors so what then if you have a bad one?

Because when people first thought to write them they didn’t even have technology we take for granted now, technology like steam engines, much less a technology like film, which is, even you, the writer of them would agree, a more time-efficient way to tell a story.

Because there’s already so many and there’s only so much time and adding another, well, have you seen a library?

Because, unless you are very well-read and very well-spoken, it’s annoying to hear people talk about them since no one ever sounds as smart as they believe they do, but, to hear those well-read and very well-spoken people you usually have to pay to do so, then you’re back at the problem of giving money to wealthy board members to learn how to write, which is exactly what you’re doing, even if you go somewhere very prestigious to do so, which, I’m sure, if you do, you’re thinking right now, this whole thing is about me. Because this is what you think if write novels, that everything is about you.

Because there are only so many trees. Because there are only so many titles. Because none of them are mine. TC mark

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