Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Crash of . . . Symbols

I came across these quotes the other day and really liked them. It's Ernest Hemingway on symbolism in The Old Man and the Sea:
"There isn't any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is sh*t. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know."
"No good book has ever been written that has in it symbols arrived at beforehand and stuck in. ... I tried to make a real old man, a real boy, a real sea and a real fish and real sharks. But if I made them good and true enough they would mean many things."

The lesson for you, and me? Don't get caught up trying to cram symbolism into your novel and don't think you can't write a great novel because you aren't able to cram it with symbolism.

Here's Little Willie on that:

Just keep writing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

'Only the Spoons'

Fortunately, writers -- and all other humans -- can be "tricked" into doing something they don't want to do. Often, writers don't want to write.

Oh, yes, you want to be a writer and you want to have written today's word count and you want to be a novelist but . . . write right now?

Oh, man . . .

If it's any consolation, the same is true with other kinds of writing. I like being a columnist but there are times when, right now, I don't want to write a column. And, at that moment, I have to write a column. (Yes, one gets paid for writing newspaper and magazine columns but they come with deadlines. Start missing those and, very soon, one is no longer a newspaper or magazine columnist.)

The trick? I suppose I could call this"Only the Spoons." When our kids were little and one of them had to wash the dishes (no automatic dishwasher here) there was the usual amount of whining and moaning ("whoaning"?) and pointing out that life wasn't fair and whoever was the last one to wash dishes didn't have as many dishes to wash and why did . . . ?

And so on.

I would tell that child to wash only the spoons. Oh. That was doable. Then only the glasses. Just the glasses. You get the idea. Soon more was washed than unwashed. And then there was a race to the finish.

It's the starting that's hard. (I'm reminded of a how-to writing book by Anne Lamott titled Bird by Bird.)

If 500 words seems overwhelming, sit down and write only 50. That isn't so bad. Doesn't take long. Then, most likely, you'll just keep going and complete the day's count. Or . . .

Sometimes, with a 600-word column, I'll tell myself I'll write only 300. And then I take a little break, realize I'm halfway there and know I'll feel better getting the whole thing done. So I go back and finish it.


Finish it.

Your daily word count. Your novel.

Your novel.

Just keep writing.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Your Daily Resolution

Now that New Year's is long gone (it seems that way, doesn't it?) and some of those resolutions of four days ago have slipped away, consider making a daily resolution.

Every day.

"Today, I'll write my daily word count."

(Okay, take one day off each week, if you like.)

Those daily counts quickly add up to lovely weekly counts, amazing monthly counts, and a book!

Your book.

Just keep writing.