On Writing a Novel

Years ago, I wrote a snooty piece about how poetry was the highest of all written forms, that its demands on the reader and the writer far exceeded the rigour required of the novelist or the "ordinary" consumer of prose. My focus was on the precision and density of the made thing, the poem, how exquisitely wrought it is and how no other creator of text has to work as hard as the poet. I quoted W. Somerset Maugham, who said that poetry is the crown of literature. I noted that in a poem there is no excess baggage. Each detail is both familiar and unfamiliar. At the end of it, the reader nods and says yes, yes, this is something I have seen too. Or, holy shit, what on earth was going on in her