No, you are not, in fact, a novelist.

Let me start by saying that, the things I’m about to say will probably offend some people.

Well good.

A sight I stumble upon far too often is disgruntled ‘writers’ in the comment sections talking about how this post or that thing that someone said offended them. Really? You were offended? As in, someone took active offense against you? And, even if that is the case, why are you so quick to tell the world how hurt you are by a few words someone you never will never meet wrote? Stop it, stop victimizing yourselves.

And, I might point out that if I manage to offend you, at least you’ve got some idea of what you believe tucked away under the folds of your neck. At least you don’t numbly nod after reading my blog and say, “Well the truth is relative, after all.” If you disagree with me, I beg you to tell me why.

Before this turns into a full-steam-ahead rant, I will get back to what I was saying.

You are not a novelist.

Now, if you are, by chance, a traditionally published author who was succeeded in making a living from their craft, please raise your hand. I am flattered you are even reading this. As for the rest of you, you aren’t novelists. Here are some of the reasons that you aren’t a novelist:

1. Fanfiction is not creative writing.

For some unbeknownst reason, there is an entire section, and actual category dedicated to fanfiction on the NaNoWriMo website. This goes a long way to reflect NaNo’s standards of writing, which is to say, none. Fanfiction is little more than plagarism, and I know anyone who writes this putrid smegma will defend themselves by saying they are exploring the depths to the characters that the author (or producer, writers, artist, ect.) never portrayed. They seem to think that there is something particularly special about these characters that gives them free reign to do as they may with them. It is one thing to enjoy characters, but to actually write an entire book of it is disgusting. I can’t even look at Marvel’s Loki anymore without imagining him get slammed in the behind by his brother, Thor, because that is what he most commonly adored for.


Fan art of Hiddleson’s Loki. It actually took me a while to find something this well drawn.

Fanfiction is a bit of a trap. Fans eat that stuff up, and writers of such fiction are usually hailed by a hungry audience eager to sing their praises at whatever steamy incest scenes the writer can come up with. These kids literally get off to that stuff. To have such an enthusiastic audience is, I’m sure, a hard thing for anyone to turn down, and a huge ego boost. Not only is writing fanfiction easy, because all your resources are already there, but it is immediately rewarding as well.

Writing is creating. Fanfiction is not creating, it is rearranging.

So, if you do write a novel, based on characters, places and concepts invented by someone else, then know that I hate you. Really, I do. And mostly I hate you because it means that you are a creative person, choosing to throw away your gifts on something so petty.

2. 50,000 words is not actually considered a novel.

Say, for a moment, that you had your 50k written out. And you had spent months, perhaps years revising it. And it was good. Great, even. Each word was carefully chosen, your sentences were well thought out and your story was rock solid and deliciously original. Say that some publishing company loved it so much, they published it.

Well, I hate to break it to you, but that still doesn’t count. 50k of words is considered a novella, and most serious novels range from 80-250k words. (YA fiction is usually an exception, but 50k is still too short.)

Now, I know that nobody published your 50k words, and I also know it isn’t the result of years of hard work, but, far more likely, result of a month of banging your greasy face against your mother’s keyboard. So, if the guy who published his 50k isn’t considered a novelist, why should you be?


“Look, ma! I wrote a book!”
“Dammit, son.”

3. Because your writing simply isn’t good enough.

Maybe your blood is finally coming to a boil.

I wrote my very first novel last year during NaNoWrimo. For the next year, I worked every single day on that book, putting around 800 hours into making it worth something. The funny thing is, my writing still sucks. It still isn’t good enough. How do I know? Because no one wanted to publish it.

J.K. Rowling spent seven years on the first Harry Potter book. Your manuscript is not good enough to be a novel, because I know you haven’t put that kind of time into it, and if you have, and it’s still not published, well, I have some bad news for you. You might not be cut out for this whole writing thing.

Anyways, lets assume your novel is 80k words, and it’s actually pretty good, and you have put some serious time into it. I shake your hand for your dedication, and am impressed by your perseverance. Now, at this point you are going to do one of two things.

Option A: Publish your Novel

Assuming you are trying to go with this option, and have not succeeded, I don’t think I need to tell you that your manuscript doesn’t quite cut it yet. And, that means, it isn’t good enough.

Option B: Don’t Publish your Novel

A lot of people write themselves books with no intention to publish them. It’s for pure pleasure, with the intent of enjoy the characters and world they made up, and perhaps the intent to share it among their loved ones. I can’t possibly tell you that this is a bad thing, despite the fact that I find it a bit weird and self-indulgent. But, if you have the humbleness to say that your project was just a work of love and you had no real intentions for it, then bless your heart.

But, let me tell you a few things about myself.

Sometimes I run. I have to get my hot water off the stove, for instance, or I don’t want to miss my bus. I run, therefore I am a runner. But it does not make me an athelete.

Sometimes I cook food. Because I’m hungry, and my body needs it. Therefore I am a cook. But it does not make me a chef.

Everyone writes. Whether you text, blog, hash up essays for school, or put down grocery lists, you are still writing. So, yes, in the technical sense, you are a writer. So, if you write novels for your own pleasure, you are, in the technical sense, a novelist. So, essentially, if you want that title of novelist, you might actually be able to call yourself one. The other day I lit a leaf on fire. Clearly, this makes me a pyromaniac… right?

I don’t think I need to expound upon that point any further.

But some day I would like to be a real novelist. My idea of a novelist, where I’m published, recognized and maybe even a little successful. But the reason I do not give myself that title yet, even though I could, is because it’s something I want to become. I don’t want it to be a part of my online persona, or a little invisible badge that I self-indulgently pinned to my breast-pocket. I have a goal, a pretty singular and well-defined goal, that I will not dilute by pretending to accomplish before I really have.

NaNoWriMo Emergency Escape Plan

When I wrote my first novel, The Ace of Spades, it was easy. Well, okay, it wasn’t easy, but I remember it being so much easier than what I’m going through right now. If I was honest with myself, I would remember the dozens of sleepless nights, the months of rearranging and editing, and the agony of deleting thousands of words. None of it seemed to be working out.

However, for some reason, I can even seem to get the first draft of my new book down. The plot, which I thought I had some idea of, has completely abandoned me, and I’m left doing nothing but writing thousands of words of dialogue with very little action. I think I would be surprised it half of what I’ve written so far makes it to the final cut. And, despite the fact that I am on schedule, I’m not confident I’ll make the final cut this year, because I have truly run out of things to write.

In my desperate attempt to figure out what to do, I came upon a revelation.

Every book is different.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t really that earth-shattering, but all this month I’ve been hoping to write my book the same way I wrote my first one- a tortuous structure of bone and wire that I could later reshape and fill out during the following months of revising. But my book refuses to come together in any way.

So, I’m breaking from the pattern completely. Because I am tired of writing things I’m probably going to delete in December, I’ve decided to write only the things I know will make the final cut. I’m disregarding the plot, because I no longer know what it is. Instead, I’m going to break my own rules and write pieces of the story wherever I can, and just try to give myself as much material to work with as possible by the end of November.

This prospect scares me, because I’m afraid that I won’t feel motivated to pull it all together again when December hits, or that I’ll just have such a mess I’ll want to start over. But I’m going to finish this damn novel no matter what.

Even though Menagerie of Sins has not come together the way I wanted it to, I still have my original vision for it, and just because it hasn’t grown up the same way my last book did, doesn’t mean I should discard it. It’s a different book, so of course the process of creating it will be different.

I just want to encourage anyone who is feeling frustrated at having practically nothing to show two and a half-weeks into this. Screw the plot, the formula, hell, even the characters if you have to. Don’t get locked into the idea of writing forward and only forward until you’re carving a plot out of your own flesh.  Remember what your book was originally supposed to be about and write that.