Sunday, December 06, 2009


The quote in the icon over at LiveJournal reads "What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure." It's one of the assured opinions of eighteenth-century author and pundit, Dr. Samuel Johnson.

On getting started, here's one from Jack London that I've read before, and that always cracks me up: "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

I've been thinking about story again lately, and working on a bit of a new project that may or may not be going somewhere. If it does, I'll share, but until then, mum's the word (or, if you are preparing for New Year's Eve already, perhaps "Mumm's the word"). It's not surprising, therefore that this quote from Alice Munro posted on 's blog last week caught my eye:

A story is not like a road to follow, it's more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows.

And finally, Neil Gaiman shared a short personal anecdote about the writing process, which I think most working writers will appreciate, and possibly for a variety of reasons. I know I appreciated it for its honesty, and for the underlying message that even experienced, well-published authors still struggle, and that perseverance pays off:

I finished a short story - technically, I suppose, a novelette, as it's 10,000 words - that I've been working on for much of the year. For most of that time, even through to the end of the first draft, a couple of weeks ago, I was convinced it was never going to work, would be a stunted, crippled little thing that was doomed to disappoint me. I knew it was missing something. What that something was occurred to me last week, exhausted after a yoga session in Boston, as my mind blanked, and later I wrote two short paragraphs in my notebook. Those paragraphs percolated and began to breathe, and I put them in and the story shifted, subtly, around them. The second draft took wing, and I found I was clear enough in my mind about what the story was that taking out things that weren't part of the story and putting in things that were was now easy, and the more I did it the better the story got, and now I'm happier with it than I've been with anything I've written for well over a year. It's called "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains..." and it is not exactly a happy story.

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