Writing a novel is like having an affair

Writing a novel is a very intimate endeavor. It’s just like falling in love. There is that first rush of excitement when you get an initial glimmer of an idea. At first, things are uncertain but there is an underlying feeling of possibility, like the idea smiled at you for the first time. Nothing too settled at this point, but you know perhaps she has some interest.

If this infatuation/flirtation shows promise, the first bloom of a romance starts and seduction begins. You invest more time, she gives you more details. You begin to see the different sides of her personality, the initial shapes of the characters begin to take form. She calls you and the characters begin to emerge. The more she speaks, the more you want to hear and soon you are completely captivated.

With all reason thrown to the wind, the affair begins in earnest. Now you can think of nothing else. She and she alone is the subject of all your thoughts. The details of the plot emerge, the characters take on their specific traits. You feel the conflict that drives the novel’s pace.

She whispers to you, intimate details. You grow jealous of your time with her. Interruptions become almost painful. You drink your coffee thinking of her. You hear a song and it reminds you of a character. The plot runs over and over in your head. Scenarios are played out. The characters are now alive each with their own story. They clammer for your attention.

Everything now happens in secret. Your friends wonder whats going on, why are you so distracted. It’s impossible to explain, like you and the novel share some intimate, personal language that can’t be translated. You know, you just can’t say.

Sometimes the outpouring of passion becomes burdensome. You quarrel with her. You say you are not going to touch the keyboard for a week. You need rest, distance. But then that smile of an idea returns and like a moth drawn to the flame, your fingers caress the keyboard again sharing with that blank page some new turn to the plot, some new bit of dialogue.

Finally, as happens to all beautiful things, the affair will be over and the novel complete. You look back over the torturous path with a feeling of gratitude. As you then turn to the post affair work – editing, marketing, trying to find a place for it in the world, you remember with a bittersweet ache those first glimpses so alive with possibility and promise.

So yes, writing a novel is like having an affair with all the same ups and downs. Like love it can both fill you with indescribable joy as well as inconsolable sadness. It’s like nothing else in the world.

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About sweagraff
Just a guy who's curious about the world and sometimes writes about it.

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