I was chatting the other day with a writer friend who was all freaked because they don’t know what happens in their work-in-progress. We chatted for some time me making suggestions, them nixing the suggestions, when in the course of the chat it emerged that they hadn’t actually started the novel.
The work it was not in progress.
“Of course, you don’t know what it’s about or all of the plot yet!” I exclaimed. “You haven’t started it! You’ll figure it out as you go along,” I said.
“Are you insane?” they replied. “I can’t start writing until I know exactly what’s going to happen. There’ll be nothing to write!”
Am I insane? I thought. I don’t think so. I’m not the one who can’t start a novel without knowing every single thing about it ahead of time. That’s nuts.
A year earlier I was bitching to this same writer that I had no idea how my book ended. I had nine tenths of the book, but no ending, and I had no idea what to do.
They thought I was insane: “How could you get that far into a book and NOT KNOW THE ENDING?!”
Um. Cause that’s how I write books.
Another writer friend of mine had a complete snit fit when they discovered another book had the same title as their yet-to-be-published book. My pointing out three earlier examples just made the author cry. I tried to console them by explaining that there are heaps of books with the same title and that this is not a problem. There must be dozens of books called Leviathan. It’s no big deal. Honest.
They does not believe me. Because author is cra-zy.
Like the friend of mine who cannot get going with their book until they know what the first sentence is. It has to be perfect. They can spend six months just writing that sentence over and over and over.
I think so.
Someone else I know writes their books backwards. Ending first. Then middle. Then beginning.
Another one writes a complete first draft and then destroys it and writes the whole thing over again.
And then there’s the writer who will write an entire novel without knowing what their main character is named. They’ll call them X throughout the draft and then only at the end go, “Oh, now I understand them. Clearly their name is Jebediah.”
I’m just saying . . .
Thank Elvis there are some sane writers like me around. Clearly you should only listen to my advice.