Saturday, April 27, 2013

When You're Hit by a Brick

Yesterday I was reading Betty Rollin's "Here's the Bright Side," which is subtitled "Of Failure, Fear, Cancer, Divorce and Other Bum Raps." (I chose it because my personal "bum rap" is my wife Monica died of uterine cancer in early January.) One of the many stories Rollin shares is about a friend who was hired to be in a Woody Allen play and then was canned during rehearsal. She says:

"But Annabelle is a writer as well as an actress and knew instinctively that certain brick blows to the head might give you emotional concussions but that emotional concussions, to a writer, are Material."

A while later, Annabelle wrote a book about folks who have been fired and what that was like for them.

It can help you as a writer to remember that a subcategory of "write what you know" is "write what you never wanted to know, but you do."

Just keep writing.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

It Ain't Learnin' vs. Livin'

I came across this article in The Atlantic magazine (when I was trolling the Internet looking for places to plug my books) titled "Live First, Write Later: The Case for Less Creative-Writing Schooling." The author's argument is a published-writer-to-be can spend too much time in school and would be better off getting out there in the world and living! And then writing from the knowledge gained there.

Well . . . yes and no. We don't learn to write on our own. (Or read, either.) At the very least, we pick it up from books. I had a handful of teachers in grade school, high school, and college that helped me tremendously. I can still think of some specific rules, tips, and advice they gave me that I use today. (Including "it's okay to break a rule if you know you're breaking a rule.")

Most of the commenters on the Atlantic article blast the author and point out all humans, you know, live and when they sit down to write they have a ton of experiences. (And one commenter said "buy my book." Tacky little salesman.)

A writing class, a writing group, a tutor or a mentor may help you tremendously. I remember reading a quote from one graduate of Iowa's writing program that said eventually he could have learned all of it by hit or miss but going to school there made that happen much, much faster. (I had a mentor, a publisher, who really helped me learn how to write humor books. He was great.)

Keep an eye out for how you can learn more about writing, but remember it's not a substitute for writing.

Just keep writing.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Speechless . . . uh . . . Wordless

I was filling out a question-and-answer form yesterday for an upcoming book review and article when I realized I'm not a very good choice for some of the questions. I had no answers.

What was the process you used to write your novel? What shaped it? What did you learn about yourself from writing it?


I did learn, or was reminded, from the Q & A that I'm not very introspective. I don't want to go to a cabin by myself and think deep thoughts. (I want my cabin to have a PlayStation and some good shoot-'em-up games.)

I say this, confess this, because you may be hesitating to attempt writing your novel or feeling you can't complete your novel because you aren't a great thinker, philosopher, or analyzer.

No worries, mate.

Just write the bloomin' story.

Trust me.

Just keep writing.