Yesterday, I had an epiphany: Popovers.
Now stay with me... I was driving home when suddenly I was in the mood for popovers. I adore baked goods and am pretty good with sweets, but I tend to muck it up when it's something bready like rolls or pizza dough or popovers. I knew I didn't have the King Arthur's Flour mix that I rely upon for all my popover needs and knew that I hadn't seen it in the stores in a long time. I was quietly mourning the fact that I could not have popovers when this very simple thought occurred to me: I have flour. I have eggs. I have milk. And I have recipe books and the Internet. I could make popovers if I tried! Having never made popovers from scratch, it was amazing to me that I had never done it but there was no reason that I couldn't try because I had all the *ingredients* for popovers.
Haunted by visions of bready goodness.
I went home, cracked open my Joy of Cooking cookbook, found that popovers are incredibly easy to make and followed the recipe, turned on the oven, and voilà: popovers! They weren't perfect, having that half-sunken quality and one or two were all but hollow shells, but all in all it was a good attempt and I got to share hot, buttery popovers thick with jam. It was *exactly* what I wanted.
You know where this is going, don't you?
Everyone can write a story, but lots of people stop themselves before they start, believing that they need something "else" before they can do it. They need a recipe, like a MFA degree or a background in Literature to be legit, or the fear of "getting it wrong" keeps them from even trying. So I'm here to say, with a reheated popover in hand, that you—yes, *YOU*—already have everything you need to write a novel.
Check this list:
1) You have a brain. Good. You need one of those because it's possible you'll lose it once in a while when writing.
2) You are literate. Because if you're not, you wouldn't be on this blog reading this list, natch?
3) You have a pen, pencil, paper, laptop, desktop or other writing implement and somewhere on which words can be stored. Hi-tech or low-tech is up to you, otherwise you need a recording device.
4) You are alive. You have access to the vast inspirational brouhaha that is life, the universe, and all the people in it. Fascinating place. Interesting creatures. Vivid colors. You name it, it's here. (And if it's not "here" here, you can bet that you're just the person to make it up!)
Time + Perseverance + Working Brain = voilà: Novel!*
I'm not saying that it will be perfect—this is a first draft after all—but it is amazingly satisfying to get to the words "The End" and marvel that you made the whole thing from scratch! It might be thin in some places, harder in others, it might need more of this or a lot less of that, but it will be real—the realization of that thing you've been craving to do all along—and the biggest thing you were missing was the knowledge that You Can Do This.
So let me just say: You Can Do This!
You have all the ingredients to make your own novel, so sit down, know you can, and get cookin'!
* I know. I know. If only it were that easy, then everyone would do it. (P.S. Everyone can do it, but few of them will.)