The other day, while in New York for a stand up show, Craig Ferguson showed up on The View. Now in addition to being an actor, a comedian and a late night talk show host, he is also an author. He wrote an autobiography and a novel. While on the show they asked him about doing another novel. This produced one of the better quotes on writing novels that I think I have ever come across. “Writing a novel is like making love to a gorilla. You’re not done until the gorilla is done.”
Considering the knack many of us have of starting a novel and then promptly finding something more important to do, or writing and rewriting that first paragraph until it is perfect, I think there should be an addendum to that. “Successfully writing a novel is like making love to a gorilla.”
Think about it. How many people have an idea for a story? I can’t be the only one that has had someone tell me, “I’ve always wanted to write a book.” Hell I have one friend that keeps telling me the same thing over and over again. It’s the same pitch every time too. I’m apparently so memorable, that people forget they’ve told me things.
My point is, if you have a novel that isn’t even enough of a story to be called a Trunk Novel and you’ve been working on it over a number of years, then your gorilla is pretty damned understanding. Either that or your gorilla is just not that into you. Or your gorilla really likes cuddling. But that is kind of how I see NaNoWriMo – a chance for us to see if our gorilla is really a gorilla or simply a lazy chimp waiting for season 3 of The Walking Dead to start up.
During the weeks leading up to November and continuing through the month, I’m going to post little snippets of things I’ve heard in panels and been told at various writing conferences. Most likely this will be to hear myself talk (virtually speaking), but there may be a newcomer or two that could find it useful. Also, I totally subscribe to one of the pieces of advice I’ve been told, “If you act like a writer, then you’re a writer.” The act of discussing the craft of writing, sitting down and brainstorming through bouts of writers block and letting people critique your work (without crying) means that you’re taking your writing seriously. And if you take that lazy, couch potato chimp seriously, you may step into your living room to find a gorilla waiting for you on the couch. Looking at you seductively. Or maybe just creepily. Possibly both.