Writing a novel is like starting a business (Hint- it’s hard)

I love it when people say, “Yeah, I need to write my book.” Oh, I love it. Makes me feel, I don’t know, happy in an evil sort of way yet sad, because they probably will and it will become a bestseller.

And look, all the power to you, but are you sure you know what it takes? Are you willing to spend one to three years with many late nights and early mornings doing the same thing over and over, making it as good as it can be? Are you willing to suffer financially and psychologically because you have to do this? Are you willing to sacrifice family time and friend time and mommy time? Wait a minute. Am I talking about writing a novel or starting a business? 

Writing a novel is a lot like slapping yourself in the face with spoons. You aren’t going to die, but it will hurt. And you know what? Starting a business is very much the same. Both take an amazing amount of time and energy and often surprises people on their first go. They certainly did for me. Having put my time in on both, I decided to devise a list of similarities in honor of NaNoWriMo.
You are either writing a novel or starting a business if: 

  1. Your friends are often out having a good time without you: and you would love to go to Cancun, but you have to work. Plus-you really shouldn’t be spending money on a ticket, hotel, and fun.
  2. You are scared to spend money.
  3. You sometimes don’t have any money.
  4. Your family gets frustrated more and more: It’s not that they aren’t supportive, because they are. It’s more that you don’t spend time together or go on several vacations or buy them what they want because see number two and three. You can often be heard saying, “If this does well, we will all be rich later.”
  5. The dogs are getting fat.
  6. You are lost when others have TV show conversations. Yes, you hear Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Game of Thrones are all wonderful, but you only have about twenty minutes every morning while you eat breakfast and drink a cup of coffee, so you usually watch Keeping up with the Kardashians reruns or the Price is Right.
  7.  You watch Keeping up with the Kardashians reruns and the Price is Right.
  8. You wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea. You scream it inside your mind a couple of times so you will remember the next morning, but it doesn’t work, and it becomes lost forever in the ether where so many creative thoughts go to die. So you put a notebook by the bed, but the next time your genius exposes itself mid-slumber you find that someone has pinched your lucky pencil and it is lost. The next day you grab the old tape-recorder, but when you wake up with a winner and roll over to use it the battery is dead. Not to be undone again, you run downstairs in your underwear and sit at the kitchen table putting your great idea down on the corner of the cable bill not caring that the neighbors’ lights are on and they can probably see you. Then you wonder why their lights would even be on at such an hour…but…who cares…Yes! You did it. You finally got a late-night idea down so you won’t forget it. You wake up the next morning feeling pretty good about yourself, knowing there is a game-changer waiting for you downstairs. You get to the kitchen and check the counter where you left the bill the night before, but it is nowhere to be found. So you ask your spouse what they did with the cable bill to which they look surprised and tell you they shredded it, because it had been paid. So you go to the basket and are relieved when you find what is hopefully enough of a portion to remind you of all the notes, but as soon as you read it and remember, you think, “Hmm. That won’t work.” and you throw it away.
  9. You spend time brainstorming with dead relatives and idols.
  10. You become a little heavier. Like the dogs.
  11. You forget that your great-uncle died while in a conversation with family, and your genuine “What?!?!” reaction freaks the others out.
  12. The number of liquor bottles kept on top of the refrigerator that used to go untouched has grown smaller.
  13. You are seen at religious institution regularly then disappear for a long time. This cycle repeats.
  14. You can be heard cursing God.
  15. You are seen at confession.
  16. You don’t recognize one of your children for a few seconds and are traumatized from it. You tell absolutely no one.
  17. You tell your therapist about not recognizing your child and that once you had a dream you were falling.
  18. You see a therapist.
  19. You appear tired and worn out, as if you are sad because of the poor choices you have made in your life.
  20. You are seen at the gym regularly then disappear for a long time. This cycle repeats.
  21. You know the first names of every Barista within a five mile radius that sells you your Italiano with a double shot of Espresso.
  22. You drink Italianos with double shots of Espresso.
  23. You once asked the Barista if they had any Bailey’s or Kahlua or Irish Cream for your coffee, which they said they did not, and you replied, “That’s OK, I have some at home.”
  24. You pull up to the coffee-shop drive-thru window and ask the clerk if they are new- to which she replies, “Dad? You know I got a job here!” And then you reply, “Ha-Ha. I am just messing with you.”
  25. You tell your therapist that you didn’t recognize your own daughter in the drive-thru window at the coffee shop.
  26. You have doubts. Lots of them. And you think there is no way you are as good as everyone else who has already done it. You have been heard uttering, “Why did I think I could do this?
Business and my mind.

Published by Dave Mainelli

Small business owner, former International franchise business consultant, musician, father, husband, and writer. Served on the B.O.D. for Red Hen Press and Fine Lines Literary Magazine, an MFA in Writing from the University of Nebraska, and a teacher for Wayne State and Iowa Western. A short story collection, 'How To Be Lonely' due out January 2021.

3 thoughts on “Writing a novel is like starting a business (Hint- it’s hard)

  1. Geezer lawyer sez, I loved your top 25 list. I have often thought about a novel, but never believed that I ever had more than one chapter to say about anything.


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