Journals of a Novel

I might have already written a post with the same name! That’s an exciting thing that happens when you’ve written 100 POSTS! I took a picture of my computer screen yesterday when WordPress announced this milestone. No I didn’t take a screenshot, I don’t know how to do that. I used an actual digital camera to take a picture of my computer screen. Like when we used to pause the television to take pictures of Tommy from Power Rangers.

(image from

I called my blog A Novel Journal because I wanted to call it Journal of a Novel. That is what I call pages in my journal where I take notes about my novel. I took this idea from a book on writing called Write Away by Elizabeth George. She quite clearly took this concept from John Steinbeck, who actually has a book called Journal of a Novel.

(image from Wikipedia)

So every once in a while I open up one of my two notebooks (one stays at home, one travels with me if my bag is big enough) and I open to a blank page. At the top I write Journal of a Novel (like this is the first journal, but like I have many novels on the go). Then I write down the reason why I opened up the notebook in the first place. For e.g., “Medicine Wheel”. Then I close the notebook and not once ever again do I look at the pages called Journal of a Novel.

This is my next step. This is what I should be doing. I need to take my Journals and apply them to my Novel. I need to find the place where the idea of the Medicine Wheel can be applied and then I need to just apply it. I need to stop thinking of my novel like Point A to Point Z and remember that actually Points D to Z need to be rewritten so I should just get in there. I should stop rewriting Points A, B and C and congratulating myself and trying to show them to people. Points A to C are not a novel! They are like an awful short story with no ending!

I really like that I write these pages called Journal of a Novel. The notes actually give me a lot of clarity. When my ideas aren’t tied up together in prose, I am better able to see how they are connected. The ideas in my novel are closely woven themes, and it’s only by writing little notes and discoveries about these themes that I realize they live on without me. It’s these themes that are ruminating and building upon one another as I let my novel sit. I keep rediscovering these themes in other pieces of literature – in life even – and feeling like I’ve caught on to something real.

My Journals of a Novel let me realize my novel is good. It’s a complex story with important characters and human discoveries. It’s almost a piece of art. Though the prose isn’t yet the prose I want to be reading, there are moments where paragraphs and lines could stand their ground. My novel has a few characters who are fully-formed and others who are getting there. There are moments where I reread bits of my novel and I feel pride. I feel myself thinking, I wrote this?

My journals of a novel help me remember this. They help me realize I’m making something real. At least I can open up to a blank piece of paper in my notebook, write Journal of a Novel at the top, and feel like my thoughts are productive. They are a part of something bigger, something that though not yet done, will someday be great.