Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Great American Novel

I have too many books. Literally. I have no place to put them. The shelves are full. They overflow with stories, stacked in every direction, crammed into every corner. I’ve given away lots of books, but not enough, so I tell myself to give away some more. But I’m kind of attached to them. It’s hard to let them go.

I have this very simple journal I’ve used since I was young. I use it to keep track of what I’ve read, I list out the book and author, then I rate the book on a scale of 1 to 6. Why 1 to 6? I don’t remember, but I can’t change it now. I’ve been doing this practically forever. I don’t even know exactly when I started it. I don’t want to mess with the system.

When I go into the journal to add a book, I see some of the old books I’ve read. I look at the ratings, and there are times when I’m tempted to change a rating. What seemed like a great book 20 years ago does not always seem so great today. I feel foolish for having thought so highly of this one or that one and I’m tempted to correct my foolishness. But I don’t. I let it stand.

And, besides, I’m impressed with the fact that someone – anyone – could finish a book in the first place. I admire the effort. I have tried and it’s not easy. At least not for me. Even a bad novel is a powerful act of discipline and will. And while good writing is a big mountain to climb, great writing is like getting to the moon and back. Still, it can be done.

In university we talked a lot about the “Great American Novel.” Has it been written yet? Was there one novel by an American that stood out as the definitive work from a writer in the U.S. of A.? No one could say for sure. I’d probably vote for Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, but what do I know?

Perhaps you are meant to write that Great American Novel? Why not? Why not try? I’ll find a way to make room on my shelves. I might even beat you to it. At least we can die trying.

Toni Morrison, author of the amazing novel called “Beloved” said, “If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”


Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010


  1. I've tried writing stories before. They all fizzle out. I feel as if it's something I'll do one day. Hopefully.

  2. I've also got a ton of books, I would like to read them all, but it is true that it is too difficult to be patient enough to read them all. I would definitely choose something from Steinbeck. Or maybe I'll write it!

  3. it takes me approximately 5 1/3 hours to write 2 sentences. you think it would be worth my while to try?

  4. You're still young. And you could learn to type. I learned with the Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing software, discount rack $5.

  5. Oh, that's typing. He has a great way with words, it just takes him a while to get them together in his mind.

    The 1 to 6 scale bothers me slightly, but it's better than 1 to 7.

  6. typing is not the problem, it is putting thoughts to paper (or screen). horrible at it.


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