“We all lead boring lives. But some of us write reports about it.” (paraphrased from the movie Naked Lunch dir David Cronenburg, a line spoken by the character portraying William S. Burroughs)
When I go on Twitter or anywhere else on line where it happens that I follow or am followed by or am capriciously linked to a bunch of writers via the inscrutable machinations of The Algorithm, I see people talking about writing. They say things like, “How many hours do you write a day?” and “What’s your favorite method for overcoming writer’s block?” and “How do you start writing when you don’t have any ideas?” and “I always dreamed of writing a book.”
I don’t really get any of those questions. Any writer writes as many hours as he or she has time to write. Lots of good writers have day jobs. As for overcoming “writer’s block” I don’t think there’s any such thing — but a person can be stuck in a project and not know where to go. And, if you don’t have any ideas, why are you writing? BUT last one I is, to me, the most incomprehensible. Why would anyone dream of writing a book? A book is a vehicle for the transmission of ideas. The book itself is nothing, an empty shell. It makes more sense to me to think, say, dream, “I want to tell this story!!!” Still, I’m not going to trample on anyone’s dreams, even the ones I find incomprehensible.
Godnose my dreams are pretty incomprehensible, like wanting to grow up to be Willy Mays. How was THAT ever going to happen?
One thing William S. Burroughs the real guy said that rings true to me is, “Well, Kerouac, Kerouac was a writer. That is, he wrote.” That is the primary requirement.
I’ve now written a bunch of books. Having done that, and gone through the grueling and surreal experience of trying to sell aforesaid (always wanted to write “aforesaid”) books, I still think I’m right. I loved writing them, even The Price which was really challenging to write and pushed me in directions I never thought of going and actually scared me a little. I experienced writer’s block because I arrived at points in the story where I didn’t know how to say what the story seemed to demand or, in a couple cases, I hated the characters. I didn’t want to recognize who, exactly, was the protagonist because I didn’t like him. But it all happened and I just re-read it and it’s a really good story. Still, I don’t know if there are any more stories that are going to demand that I sit in front of this computer screen and write them. No idea.
I kind of feel like Huck Finn at the end of his saga,
“…there ain’t nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I’d a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn’t a tackled it, and ain’t a-going to no more…” Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn