f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Day 3 of Novel Writing – Why a Book is Written

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Day 3 of Novel Writing – Why a Book is Written

Yesterday we put on tweed, snifted brandy, puffed away at our meerschaum pipes, and talked of a novelist’s highest calling—to craft a book that would only grow in stature as decades passed.

Today, we’ve got blue jeans, sweatshirts stained with strained vegetables, a water bottle, a bowl of pretzels, and a half-an-hour while the kids are asleep. Your choices are Regis, thirty minutes of Renee faking a British accent in the new Bridget Jones DVD, shiny, happy people in Us magazine, or Brothers Karamazov.

Anybody up for a little Dostoevsky? Yeah, didn’t think so.

How about Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? Perhaps, but wouldn’t Colin Firth be yummier?

Okay, how about the short chapters of Karen Joy Fowler’s The Jane Austen Book Club.

You know, that just might work.

Remember yesterday when I said, in bold letters, how books must entertain for a day but be written for eternity? I believe that. But I also know that often, entertaining for a day is both hard enough and reward enough.

Books that entertain for a day are the engine that make the publishing industry move, partially because of how disposable they are. The fact that they slip in and out of bestseller lists means space is available for more books to emerge.

Just how cynical you want to be about these books is up to you. Some are pure formula, written with less skill and grace than you might gain from an adolescent lemur. Some show sparkle and imagination in places but never stretch for much more. Others hit every mark and find their way into a warm spot in your heart, even if they’ll never be discussed thirty years hence.

Your book must entertain for a day. Whether fantasy or family drama, murder mystery or Regency romance, this is your book fulfilling its purpose: to be read.