Why I Can’t Write Novels

I could never write a novel.


It’s often said that readers make the best writers, but in all honesty, reading is what has made me a terrible writer. Well, reading and curiosity.


I am a greedy reader. I want to know everything. I want every sense to be filled and possessed by the description on the page. I’m interested in the detail. I want to know the texture of the buttons on his shirt. I want to know about the gleaming streaks of cleanliness where fingers were dragged across the dusty surface of the wooden banner. I want to know about the slight metal-and-plastic aftertaste that she gets from her water bottle that will always remind her of camping trips with her uncle.


It is often said “write the story you want to read”.


The story I want read could have no plot. They just need to be interesting. I would read a story that had nothing but details. It could just be a single moment, and the telling of it. I would read hundreds of pages about hands wrapped around a coffee cup, the sun reflecting off the wings of a bee as it balances on the petals of a lilac, a spec of lint making its daring escape up, from behind the drying, to dance in the updraft from the heating vent.


The stories I want to tell aren’t details.

I want to tell stories about people getting lost and finding themselves. I want to tell stories about accidentally tripping and falling only to end up sliding down the rabbit hole. I want to tell stories of discovery and loss and hurt and healing. I want to tell stories of triumph. I want to tell stories where the end is really only a middle, because sometimes there are things that cannot get better.


I can’t write these things, because I say “Let me tell you a story,” and I have nothing to put on a page, because there are infinite worlds to be created, and they are all changing at every moment, and how can I explain that if I’m trying to say something else?


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