The more I write my novel, the more I am confronted with particular difficulties. I can see now why many novelists publish their better works when they’re older. Age gives you life experience, and with it comes a greater mastery over the stories you write.
For instance, if you wish to write a story depicting a homosexual couple and the difficulties of their life, it helps if you understand the dynamics of society and its relationship to homosexuality. I believe that a good novelist should be a good sociologist and a good psychologist. By studying the way that people relate and the way they relate, a writer stands to create a reflection of reality that feels “right.”
With more life experience, one stands to gain more depth and complexity in one’s writing. I see this in my own writing. I started the journey of writing my novel many years ago, and I see that it is somewhat crude in its simplicity. I am not speaking of the writing itself, but the events and situations portrayed. Where Mark was once a misanthrope who is disgusted by the world around him, he is now a saintly patron of lifelong monogamy. It makes for a much more interesting novel because it’s just too easy to hate things. It’s far more difficult to see what others do not, to love what most hate.
In any case, it helps a writer’s work if he or she knows more about how the world works. It is difficult to gain that scope of vision, but I believe that it an immense asset. In fact, I believe that my drive to write my novel has served as the impetus for much of my learning. Because I am writing, as opposed to filming or playing music, I must by the very definition of the act define and describe things. I must put into words what many cannot. What is that strange feeling you get at 3AM and you’re lying in bed? Well, I must create a metaphor or describe it with simile. What is that stately architectural style reflected in that arch over there? Well, I’ve got to find out. Becoming a novelist has also made me more driven to discover people’s stories, to see what happens in the real world. “How did you get married to your husband?” I often find myself asking. There is nothing more exhilarating to me than uncovering the dynamics of the real world and seeing if they match up with the patterns described by the soft sciences.
With this knowledge comes confidence in my writing. For me, I must understand the underpinnings of things before I can write about it. I must learn the ins and the outs, I must understand the cogs that move the machinery of whatever it is that I am examining in my writing. Only then can I hope to create something that worthy of an audience.