Recently, my friend Gena K. sent me a great summer read: Where’d You Go Bernadette. It helped that the book came to me in a flash straight from Amazon to my kindle (now that’s my kind of gift). But the character of Bernadette reads like she was delivered straight from the writer’s mind onto the page, fully formed. And so I read and read for three days until I was done.
Henceforth began the bender: the deep dive into the internet to find anything and everything I could about the author. Her website is adorable and reminded me why spending “two years writing and rewriting a novel full of agreeable character which [you] hope will deliver [you] to commercial success” just doesn’t work. She tried it and had to abandon the whole thing for a character named Bernadette who, much like herself, was a “toxic brew of self-pity, defensiveness, love and artistic paralysis” which was, “while humiliating to admit,”….”actually kind of funny.” Continue reading The Bender – Maria Semple, Jennifer Egan and Jack London
I went looking for a copy of Jack London’s Call of the Wild and found an essay on ambition instead. The search started after I watched an interview with Maria Semple after reading her book Where’d You Go Bernadette. And then I read another interview with her with the New York Times where she notes some of her favorite authors and stories (Call of the Wild included).
While I never made it to rereading Call of the Wild I did find comfort in reading his essay First Aid to Rising Writers. He tells us that it only makes sense to want to write and get paid for writing. To exchange stories for cash is as fair of a request as any that might come from a mender of bones or a puller of teeth for the service that they provide. Continue reading A Call for Cash for Rising Writers
Really really hard work will get you to where you want to go. And I feel very lucky to know that, that also is in my bones and that came from TV writing, because I came across so many people who write first drafts, who write the first half of novels, and I give them notes and they just kind of give up. They’re just like oh I can’t, they just can’t deal with it, they don’t know how to roll up their sleeves and dig down and make it better. – Maria Semple Continue reading On Writing Second Drafts
So far, I’ve managed a few hours here and there of writing time. Not consecutively. Maybe in 30 minute intervals, and maybe forsaking the nap that new moms are advised to take in the maxim: “You sleep when she sleeps.” Continue reading Writing and Parenting
Last week my writing sponsor sent me an email that said: If you don’t have a giant map of all the chapters, you should make one. Put in a line for what happens in each, then figure out where each one that you have fits. You really should know the full arc as much as possible — at least up to the point where you’ve done some writing. That make sense? Continue reading Novel Writing Is A Long Road So Bring A Map!
1) Write Badly
Allowing myself to write badly is a lot harder than I imagined. Perhaps it’s better to cultivate a mythology around yourself, like Amy Hempel – who says that she writes only what she can stand to see on the page, or Muriel Spark, who says her written words were moments of clear and present divinity. JK Rowling says that Harry came to her in an instant and from that moment on she couldn’t stop writing. But let’s just assume that even if it was by keeping a journal or writing notes on scrap paper or making a list of story ideas, that even these ladies, at some point or another, wrote some version of a shitty first draft. Continue reading Five Tips to Write More Better
Last year I talked with Matt Dojny about how his new book was going. His first, Festival of Earthly Delights was getting great reviews and he had agreed to give a talk at our first work-in-progress reading. We met to discuss the talk and he let me in on a secret to creativity that has made a big difference to my writing world. Continue reading Matt Dojny Invites You Inside Your Quantum Home