The folks at NaNoWriMo send pep talks from famous writers to our inbox every week. This week we heard from Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass and other stories. I loved all he had to say; his words were very encouraging. He says the hardest page to write is page 70:
All the initial excitement has drained away; you've begun to see all the hideous problems you've set yourself; you are horribly aware of the minute size of your own talent compared to the colossal proportions of the task you've undertaken. That's when you'll want to give up.That made me laugh, and as someone who is on page 20, I'm not looking forward to page 70. However, maybe remembering what he said about it - power through! - it won't be so bad. The other thing that he said, which I've heard before as well, but is so true, is that you can't write a novel if you're not a reader:
Every novelist I know—every novelist I've ever heard of—is, or was, a passionate reader. I don't doubt that someone with determination and energy, but who didn't read for pleasure, who only read for information, could actually write a whole novel if they set their mind to it and followed a few rules and guidelines; but would it be worth reading? Would it give any pleasure beyond a mechanically calculated sort? I doubt it. Novels that last and please readers are written because the novelist is intoxicated by the delight and the endlessly renewable joy that comes from engaging with imaginary characters—with story; and that engagement always begins with reading; and if it catches you, it never lets go. Write a novel if you want to win a competition, or impress your friends, or possibly make some money—do so by all means. But if you're not a lover of stories, a passionate and devoted reader, don't expect your novel to please many readers.I don't know if being on a desert island without a book is my worst nightmare, but it's up there. Here's to the next 10,000 words.
On the other hand, if you do love reading, if you cannot imagine going on a journey without a book in your pocket or your bag, if you fret and fidget and become uncomfortable if you're kept away from your reading for too long, if your worst nightmare is to be marooned on a desert island without a book—then take heart: there are plenty of us like you. And if you tell a story that really engages you, we are all potential readers.