Cover Photo: Photograph by Thomas Renaud/Unsplash
Photograph by Thomas Renaud/Unsplash

I’m a Nervous Wreck When I Write Prose

I am yet another poet writing a novel. Which is to say, I find myself in hell.

This screenshot of a tweet from Aria Aber (@AriaAber) reads: "poets shouldn't write novels bc they take every sentence and weigh it on a kitchen scale, then bring their little nail scissors and start pruning the commas and the images and the sounds until everything is perfect and how are you supposed to do that with a story that's 60k words"

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And when it’s finished, maybe I’ll call myself a novelisteven if I’m the same nervous wreck I’ve always been.

Ben Purkert is the author of For the Love of Endings (Four Way Books, 2018). His work appears or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Nation, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. An editor at Guernica, he teaches at Rutgers. He's currently at work on a novel about toxic masculinity. You can read more of his work at or on Twitter (@BenPurkert).