I’m not big on how-to books about writing and such, but this very good blog post by Dani Amore made me buy the book mentioned. In the post, Ms. Amore describes how Stephen Pressfield missed Watergate and the resignation of Richard Nixon because he was holed up writing a book. That is discipline. That is dedication. That may be crazy. But I’m in awe.
Why write about writing when you can read this guy? I don’t have the answer.
Ever write something really smoothly, just humming along nicely, feeling the creative juices flowing, realizing the vision on the page the sparked you to write it to begin with, cruising-soaring-dancing to the end…
…and then read it a week or so later and nearly barf?
At how bad it is. How amateurish. How English-as-a-fourth language. How cliched. How trite. How stinko. How vomitacious.
Been one of those days.
Sent off that rewrite to the kind editor who requested it, thereby easing one of the points of friction in my story-a-week challenge. Am pretty happy with the story, and think it benefited from the editorial advice. Now let’s see if the editor agrees.
Takeaways from the experience:
1) Overkill — In writing horror, one often faces the task of making the impossible plausible. In the case at hand, the editor thought I was overdoing certain types of details, so I scaled them back greatly. I have a hard time coordinating the demands of the story at hand and my own scattered ways of thinking. I suppose this could apply to any fiction. When you write, and are enjoying it, you tend to blab a little. At least I do. I thank this editor tremendously for pointing out when it’s “enough already.”
2) Story-a-week can yield results, though it’s kind of messy and dirty. In the haste of sending something out, there can escape embarrassing typos and other mistakes (reminder: story-a-week challenge I’m talking about is to write and submit a story by late Sunday evening of every week; my record is maybe 3 out of the last 20 or so weeks).
My conscience is troubling me in a voice derived from the Sarah Palin Obama-taunting meme about hopey-changey things.
Have I met the challenge? No. Reasons/excuses:
2) failure of imagination
3) day job/family responsibilities, aka real life
4) great good fortune to have received a rewrite request from the editor of an online magazine of a story written, yes, via this challenge — said rewrite is taking a bit of time, as I strive to take the editor’s advice to heart
5) anxiety over line edits of SAD JINGO, which I have yet to receive, though I did have an encouraging conversation, just yesterday, with the editor
Is that good enough? Probably not. Must do better.
What a great interview with Charlie Stella at the blog The Crime of It All.
Stella represents a strain of publishing that I sometimes resist, if only because the only writing credentials I will ever have are the ones earned by putting fingertips to keyboard and hitting “send” enough times, and getting lucky. Stella was a criminal, and therefore “authentic” when it comes to writing crime. I tend to think that kind of authenticity — or, more precisely, the requirement certain readers have that a piece of fiction be authentic by virtue of being written by someone with a similar background to the protagonists — is horseshit. It can lead to the identity politics that celebrates “multi-culti” writing more for its ethnicity, sometimes, than its skill.
But this interview makes me want to read his work because of what he says, not because of what he is. Plus he mentions some interesting-sounding books I haven’t read but will add to the pile (no, not Doetoevski — have actually heard of that one).
Hat tip Jeff Rutherford: Writing Wednesdays: My Years in the Wilderness.
Holy guacamole! Am I going to have to list Granta in my genre fiction links? See: Granta 117: Horror | DarkMarkets.com.