Why is it so hard to write a novel?

I’m on the last half of the last chapter of my second novel Waiting For My Daughter’s Ghost and I’m stuck, I’m flailing. I have no idea what I’m doing.

It suddenly strikes me at how enormous this all is, creating an imaginary world and then populating it with people, building relationships and then guiding those relationships through struggles and strife, forgiveness and redemption and sometimes, even death.

It feels like playing God and maybe it is, in a sense.

Dear Ernest: Shame on you for correlating honest writing with chaste women but then again, you weren’t exactly a sexually liberated man, at least not from a woman’s point of view.

God or no god, divine intervention or not, I am struggling. My plot, which I so carefully devised, has shattered and my characters refuse (refuse!) to obey my wishes. Which leaves me with an overwhelmingly complex choice: End the book as I originally intended or follow the lead of my characters.

Which is more authentic? Which is the most honest? Which ending best suits the mood and dynamics of the book?

At this point, I truly don’t know.  I need chocolate. And a long bath. And then more chocolate. Which begs the question: Is it possible to write a novel without chocolate? Has anyone ever done it?

My latest obsession: I can’t get enough of the Tiny House Blog. Aren’t the house cute? I so love small houses and cozy spaces. It’s my dream to build a small house on a small plot of land and live and write totally off the grid.

This house is 300 square feet, isn’t it wonderful? I want it! Photo credit: http://www.tinyhouseblog.com


6 thoughts on “Why is it so hard to write a novel?

  1. Tiny houses. In Elmira, New York is a tiny building on a hill where Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn – not all at once but over seven years.
    You plotted out your plot and now feel lost? Robert Penn Warren I believe said, I had an outline once and it took me two years to write my way out of it.
    My recommendation to you about your current story, write every damn word you can, no matter how irrelevant it seems. Get the imagination working, even if you add 10,000 words. Throw the outline away, read it and figure out what it is your wrote.


    1. I love this, thanks so much for the encouragement (kind of like a gentle push in the behind, which I much, much needed). I also love the idea of Mark Twain sitting in a tiny building on a hill and writing Huckleberry Finn. If only I could swim through time and be there with him! I’d serve tea and rub his poor, sore shoulders. Anyway, thanks again. I stayed up all night writing “every damn word” and I think I’m past the worst of it (she says, in her tired haze). Cheers and have a great weekend.


  2. You want a small house on a small plot because the plot of your novel has become too big 🙂 No to the chocolate question. It’s imperative to endings (or beginnings or middles) and regarding the other matter, I’d let my characters lead me by the hand wherever they want. Carry on!


    1. I love you, Jackie! Truly. That’s too funny and true: I want a small house because my novel plot has become too big. You are a genius. (Can you now please finish my book for me, okay?) Thanks so much for the inspiration. Happy writing and P.S. Your NY Marathon post is awesome. Too funny, and too true (I cried during my first marathon, hee, hee).


  3. Man, I’ve been there. And it’s no fun, and you wonder who you think you are, to imagine you’re a novelist, and nobody gets what you’re going through so everything gets internalized and your stomach lining gets raw. But just about every great book has the same circumstances behind it, and the author somehow made it work.

    It’s what I hate most about writing, and what I love most about writing. Huh? Wha?

    In the end, it’s as much a psychological process as a technical one. Sounds like you’re slowly getting there.


    1. Thanks so, so much, Kevin and it isn’t fun, is it? Each time someone says, “Oh, I could write a novel if I could only find the time,” I want to punch them in the face. Seriously. Because it’s not easy. And my stomach lining is raw. But I am slowly working through it. Was up all night and am pretty much destroyed today, but in a good way. Cheers and happy writing. P.S. I shall visit your blog later today and make wise and pithy remarks.


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