15 July 2010

It's not a secret

Every novelist's family knows and their friends forgive ... novelists are control freaks. They create and people whole worlds just for the joy of playing God.

It gives us a totally new appreciation of God (whether we believe in him or not). It's a tough job.

Characters ... they run amok. We tell them to do something, and they insist on free will. We give them little warnings, like volcanoes and rivers of mud. They ignore them. You just can't trust a character to behave sensibly. I'm dreading the day one of my heroines decides to fall in love with the villain. Then what do I do with the hero? "Sorry, fella, you're superfluous now. Into the volcano with you." ?

And then there's the critics. God has his priests and pray-ers telling him what to do. Novelists have reviewers and readers. Like God, we appreciate their interest, but it soon becomes clear you can't please everyone. Nor can we throw the really annoying ones into a volcano (the ones who insist on being right! No one likes a smarty pants, especially not the novelist who receives the 1287th email telling her the hero had three left hands in the major sex scene).

Actually, the more I think about it, writing is an incredibly frustrating job for a control freak. Why do we do it?

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