It is my business to know things. That is my trade. -- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
What's the good of being an author if you can't make up a story? -- P.G. Wodehouse
The true University of these days is a Collection of Books. -- Thomas Carlyle
There are so many reasons to love writing novels. So many. And it's good to remember them from time to time, since the crushing difficulties also show up with unnerving regularity...
But there are so many reasons not to push that pencil between your eyes. So many reasons to keep going.
For instance, you can write plenty of scenes propped up on pillows in bed, putting your protagonist through one crisis after another. Very theraputic, that. I don't mind being sick half so much if my protagonist is rather worse off. What's a little cough, when she's running for her life ... again?
Also, the little things can make my day. I finally get the right name for the character, the town, the chapter? I'm happy every time I see it and feel that hole-in-one glee all over again. And if a gem of a sentence drops onto the page? Brilliant. I bask in that one all day.
Another fabulous fact about this discipline, this life, of writing?
You learn while reading other novels. Which is my first love, of course. I've been a nonstop reader for as long as I can remember. So, feel the delight: some of the best lessons I've learned have been while reading books for fun. And because I write what I love to read, I'm usually reading (and learning from) novels that fit the genre I'm writing to, the age group I'm aiming for, or similar subject matter... or, I picked them up because, hey, they looked like fun.
I always use index cards as bookmarks, and by the end of a novel, they're cluttered with notes: Fabulous sentences, my guesses at who the murderer is, questions about where the plot is going, wondering if a scene is necessary... basically, I'm talking back to the book.
And--okay, confession time--I still write book reports.
I was in the habit already, and I never gave it up after college. So every book I read gets a Word document in my computer. They aren't neat and tidy reports; I ramble about whatever grabbed my attention. I argue a lot. I note pages that I had trouble with. Sometimes I tweak the ending. Or, I just fill it with all the beautiful descriptions the author used, or I dissect the brilliant transitions.
Sometimes I wonder if this means I'm a terminal nerd.