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Monday, January 2, 2012

The Best Guess of the Novelist

You know what your best guess is. It is the book you have not undertaken because it might be great or it might be a colossal failure of years and time and money. The modern novelist is stuck between selling and fame and artistic merit if not immortality. You could out Franzen Franzen but if you fail then you will have used up precious ideas not acted upon and the fact is you literally only have so much time to write so many novels before you earn yourself a slab in a cold dark cemetery.

These are the thoughts novelist deal with every day. Write something containable and marketable and safe or throw it all to the wind like that first novel you were never sure you could finish or even what the name of it was going to be. You settle down with novel two and three and four is the beginning of something new but you have not knocked the roofs off for a while if ever and you are wondering if your best guess as a novelist might really be your best.

And so there you stand at your crossroads. Take a shot at the prize or keep drinking the swill that might pay off with repetition and various ideas if not various genres. The stakes have become very high now. Only one novel gets the prize of the New York literary establishment lining up to ensure success. This years winner was The Art of Fielding. A wide ranging baseball novel that was pretty milk toast when it came to the end, but no matter, it had won the prize and publishing lined up and swung the big bat and the ball did sail out of the park.

So there you have it. The prize or settle into your comfortable mediocrity and produce good novels that hopefully lots and lots of people will read. Or take your best guess... and go for it.
Hemingways Attic...a writers survival guide

Books by William Hazelgrove