By Steven Pressfield | Published: November 4, 2015
Writing a novel can test your sanity.
Consider what you’re letting yourself in for. A two- to three-year slog with no external validation or reinforcement, no paycheck, no day-to-day structure except that which you impose yourself. Support from friends and family? Dubious. Future rewards? Highly uncertain. And we’re not even talking about the work.
Will your Significant Other understand? The best advice to the mate of a novelist (or to anyone with aspirations in this direction) is to sit down, pour yourself a stiff drink, and make sure in your heart that this is a starship you’re ready to blast off in.
No one, trust me, can write a novel and not become completely immersed in it. You have to or you can’t keep going.
Think about how crazy that is.
You, the writer, are having conversations all day (and all night) with personalities who don’t exist. Those with whom you spend every working hour, and about whom you care most passionately, possess no corporeal reality. You’re like Walter Pidgeon dueling the Monsters from the Id in Forbidden Planet (Netflix it if you haven’t seen it). You have entered a realm whose depths and dimensions are known to you alone. You can try to explain this to your spouse, yeah, but that glassy, semi-panicky look in his/her eyes is real. He/she has just realized that they’re linked for life with a person they do not know.
One of the weirdest things in the world is to look in the mirror (I mean really look) when you’re in the throes of writing a novel.
You don’t even recognize yourself.
You are dealing with the Muse now. You’re on her turf. She owns you.
It’s a rush. It’s the rush. But it also can scare the hell out of you.
You have ceded your psychic autonomy to forces based in a different dimension of reality. This is the Foreign Legion, baby, and I don’t mean France.
I’m not kidding when I say that your closest, and possibly only confidant has now become your cat, your dog, your goldfish. They don’t get you either, but at least they’re not the mother or father of your children.
Why do so many novelists become drunks or addicts? Why do so many take the gas pipe?
You’re playing with dynamite when you type