Saturday, October 22, 2005

On Writing

I'm often asked how I go about writing a novel. I have no rigid strategy, but there are some steps that proved effective during the writing of JUNK...

First, I try to love life deeply. This is dangerous, because the suffering of loss is an ultimate (and undeniable) condition of loving. True love does not hide from a painful awareness of absurdity, often manifested through physical and emotional naturalistic details. Love necessitates embracing the void (perhaps laughing while doing so). I accomplish this through writing. Hence my motivation.

When I begin to write, I turn off my internal editor. I create a mental space where logic and reason cannot judge, where my intuition is safe to play. This allows ideas to flow out, tinged with an element of mystery bestowed by the subconscious.

Once I've written, I leave the text alone for a period. I try to trust the passage of time, and keep my itchy brain off the ideas for several weeks.

When I return to the text, I come armed with logic and reason. I narrow my vision to become microcosmic (some might say anal retentive), and address elements of style, continuity, character, theme, technique, motif, etc. I muster tenacity and repeat this process until I work myself into an obsessive frenzy, along with my publisher, who snatches the text from my hands and dashes to the printer before I can grab it back.

I have little advice to offer. I learned long ago that an ivory tower would not teach me to trust my voice (or discover I had many voices). Although I'd been offered an English scholarship, I chose not to pursue a formal degree. This decision was not made in arrogance, but it did contain an element of humility. If I could not be taught to write, then I sure as hell couldn't teach anyone else.

Follow your own heartbeat. I've found it's the only way to the fiery, raw and honest words that set a keyboard ablaze.

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