The Novel That Didn’t Write Itself

Today I want to share a story with you all. I hope you all get something from it.

* * *

Fantasy In Motion Presents…

A Fantasy In Motion Production…

From the guy who writes this blog…

Critics are calling it “Get out of my office before I call security”…

The Novel That Didn’t Write Itself

One day there was a novel. Well, there would have been one if it had been written. It existed, but only in spirit.

So, one day there was a novel’s spirit. This particular spirit wanted to be a fantasy novel. It was full of fantastic things like dragons, epic journeys and little furry, squeaky things that nobody really knows the name of. Since it had first been dreamed up, it had always wanted to be a novel and nothing else. Not a racing driver. Not an astronaut. Not a movie star. It was a novel’s spirit and being a novel was all it had going for it.

But there was a problem.

There was an evil writer called Zanniberous Zanzini VI (let’s just call him Zan). All his life he had been mocked because of his name and so he vowed that one day he would name a character after himself and nobody would ever laugh at him again. So, he started writing a novel. He’d planned it well, created a believable world and invented brilliant characters. It was going to be a success. He was going to be a success!

One fateful day, however, he stopped writing. He played video games, he read books and he watched TV… but he didn’t write his novel. Every day, he went online and read about other authors. He read their blogs, their interviews and devoured every bit of advice they threw out there. Zan was ravenous. He was going to have all that one day. He just knew it. But every time he sat down to write, he thought of something else he could be doing instead. Maybe I can just complete that level on Halo first? There’s a ton of TV I need to catch up on… maybe I could do that for an hour first? Every time he thought about playing games or anything else, he lost interest in writing.

And so this cycle continued.

With every day that passed, the novel’s spirit grew weaker. No new ideas were flowing into it. It was dying. Every time Zan’s computer started up, the novel’s spirit looked to him for help. It tried to stand out, to make its desktop folder look inviting. But Zan always ignored it and loaded up a game instead.

Curse these games with their characters made out of pixels, their empty promises of engaging stories and their drug-like addictiveness! the spirit thought. What makes them so much more interesting than me?

From then on, the spirit would watch Zan from beneath a deep stack of folders. It would watch as the writer created new stories and dreamed up new ideas, only to consign them to an ever-growing folder called ABANDONED. The novel’s spirit would talk to the other hollow spirits and learn about their time spent with Zan.

‘I was going to be about a secret agent and a thrilling race against time!’ one said. ‘But then he just left me half-way through the first chapter and he never touched me again.’

‘He promised me the world!’ another cried. ‘He named me “The Ultimate Story”. He came up with all sorts of maps, histories and designs for me, but he… he didn’t even start writing.’

It was summer now. ABANDONED had grown over the past year and it had become a dangerous and confusing place. The spirits all peered out from their hiding places and watched as Zan loaded up a new file and gave it a name. The writer looked tired now, drained even. He started to type something and then stopped. He deleted the letters, stabbing at the backspace key with venom. He moved the mouse and hovered over the ABANDONED folder. His eyes were full of memories, hopes and desires. He looked at the folder and sadness showed on his face. Suddenly, he threw the mouse at the wall, kicked away his chair and stormed from the room.

Weeks, months and then years passed by with no sign of Zan. Eventually, some men in blue uniforms came and started removing things from the room. One of them leaned over and looked at the screen. The novel spirits looked back at him hopefully.

‘Hey look at this, Stevens!’ the man said, waving over his friend.

‘Jesus,’ Stevens muttered, staring at the computer screen. ‘This guy was the big time, wasn’t he?’

‘Yeah,’ the other said. ‘He was big time alright. A big time nut job.’

The men both laughed and walked away, carrying armfuls of Zan’s belongings between them. The spirits of ABANDONED all looked out at Zan’s desktop and gasped when they saw the wallpaper. It read: “Zanniberous Zanzini VI is a bestselling author from Manhattan, NY. He lives with his–” the words stopped there. Across the writing, the words “THE END” had been drawn hundreds of times in blood-red.

Zan was never published. He never even finished a story. The police found him dead in his bathtub, clutching a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing to his chest.

He never learned the most important lesson of all: novels don’t write themselves. So, if you sit there ignoring your novel’s spirit day after day, playing games to help you block out the nagging voice in your head, remember Zan’s fate and change your life today with one simple step. Write. Even if it’s terrible, embarrassing or full of spelling mistakes, just write. After all, nobody’s going to write your story for you, are they?

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And you thought it was going to be lighthearted the whole way through, didn’t you? Well, sometimes life is funny and then sometimes its not. That story was based on nobody real (thankfully!) but it was very loosely inspired by my own experiences over the last few years. I’ve only recently managed to get it together and actually devote myself to one story and know that I will finish it at some point. I’ve never gotten particularly frustrated or down over my lack of progress (I’m a pretty level-headed person) but I always wished that I would just finish at least one full-length novel.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Leave me your thoughts!

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3 thoughts on “The Novel That Didn’t Write Itself

  1. debyfredericks 25-Jul-2012 / 15:53

    Punishment and reward, James… You write two pages, then you get an hour on Diablo III. (Speaking from my own experience 🙂

  2. Claude Dancourt 25-Jul-2012 / 16:15

    When I was a teen, I imagined that my characters were going to die if I didn’t check with them every day. A bit psycho, but effective. I wish it’d be that easy now… Great post.

  3. Sagequeen 29-Jul-2012 / 21:29

    I write with a friend, so it’s helpful to keep us both motivated, and to prevent that frightening place called the echo chamber. Great thing about rpg play by post sites… you have others to hold you accountable and plenty of demand to write.

    Lovely site so far! Keep it up!

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