Learning to Write XIV
You’ll know when it’s time to write your first novel because the thing will spring into your mind fully formed. It might happen at any time of day or night, but it will probably be at night, if not the middle of the night when you are in bed asleep. Now wide awake.
You may back off or procrastinate. You could turn over onto your side and go back to sleep. When you come awake in the morning there will be an uneasy feeling that something of significance happened during the night, but you won’t know exactly what it was.
If you are going to be a novelist you will gather your courage together and go to a keyboard and a screen or a piece of blank paper and try to write down what was in your dream and perhaps what is still quite clear in your mind.
What will defeat you, if anything does, is the shape of the novel. The shape of the concept in your mind is too large and unwieldy. It will refuse to be formed whole on the page. This business of transforming it from your mind to your page is what writing is about.
The shape in the mind has to be deconstructed and reassembled piecemeal onto the page. And the deconstruction and the reassembly are not a part of the talent which you have inherited or been given as a birthright. They are skills which you have to learn.
Unfortunately there is no other way to write a novel but piecemeal. You can acquire the tools to enable you to perform this operation by yourself, or you can be taught them by someone else. If you decide to take the route of a teacher be very careful that the teacher you choose is going to teach only technique. As soon as you suspect that anything else is being introduced into the equation, back away.
As well as learning to acquire the skills of your new trade it is also your responsibility to protect the flash of genius which separates you from all the other voices out there.