Besides talent, what are the particular human qualities it takes to be a novelist?
Joshua Ferris had this to say:
“It takes no particular human quality for one to become a novelist save this: the ability to endure long stretches of time at one’s desk." Mr. Ferris goes on to elaborate what you might be doing at this desk, describing the imagination as:
Wow! What a lyrical, lovely passage to capture the essence of our craft, that magical shaping of characters and landscapes from the raw cargo of words. Ferris structures his homage to the writing process through parallel, incomplete sentences, repeating openings to create a cadence and lull me into believing his thesis.
Yes, I’ll buy it in part. Hours at the desk, is another way of saying discipline, but none of us will be able to sculpt such poetic passages unless we are also readers. A writer is a passionate reader first. Stay in the desk and spin your daydreams, but also make sure a good portion of the day is saved for reading with a writer’s eye for detail. Read poetry, both contemporary and classic. Read the masters and read your peers. Read Chekhov and Alice Munro. Read novellas and read the sprawling epics. Read magazines and newspapers and let your imagination spread out like a fisherman’s net, hauling in anything strange and wondrous to be saved for a later day. Yes, spend your hours at the desk, but never forget that it was your passion as a reader that brought you there in the first place and will sustain you during the times the imagination runs dry.