Even the biggest names in literature struggle to put words on the page—that’s the moral of a recent Wall Street Journal story entitled "How to Write a Great Novel."
Not surprisingly, the headline is a tease. None of the 11 top authors interviewed for the article, including Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel (pictured above, courtesy Writers Pictures), actually tells how to write a good book, let alone a great one. They all, however, talk freely about the challenges involved and how they deal with them.
Between the lines, the article shows that writing a novel is not all that different from pursuing other passions. Among a host of hurdles, these authors struggle with procrastination, fear of failure and the ever-present lure of the Internet.
The bottom line: To write a novel, thousands of hours of hard work are required with no guaranteed payoff other than random moments of intense exhilaration and the satisfaction of having achieved a dream.
Which, at least to my way of thinking, is (almost) compensation enough.