“Completing a book, it’s a little like having a baby. There’s a feeling of relief and satisfaction when you get to the end. A feeling that you have brought your family, your characters, home. Then a sort of post-natal depression and then, very quickly, the horizon of a new book. The consolation that next time I will do it better.”
JOHN LE CARRÉ
“Writer’s block” is the normal state of writing … you rarely have anything just flow easily from your brain to the keyboard.”
“If you’re a person who writes one book every three years, hey, fuck yeah. High-five yourself because most people write one book every NEVER.”
“Self publishing is a viable path. It is not, however, the easy path. […] You don’t just do a ballerina twirl and a book falls out of your vagina.”
“So plan the plot, for Chrissakes. This isn’t an improvisational dance. Take some goddamn notes.”
“A good [short story] would take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit.”
“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.”
“I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much.”
“The best thing about writing fiction is that moment where the story catches fire and comes to life on the page.”
“Monsters are real, ghosts are too. They live inside us, and sometimes they win.”
Keep on writing, no matter what! That’s the most important thing. As long as you have a job on hand that absorbs all your mental energy, you haven’t much worry to spare over other things. It serves as a suit of armor.
Here is advice. Send the thing out and forget it. Quickly get to work on the next thing. Don’t sit by the phone or watch your email. Don’t hope. You’ve done a big thing by finishing something. Spend all the energy on possible despair. Avert that possible despair. Transfer the despair to the next manuscript. Right away, like the next day.
The work of any great artist is directed at the heart, the spirit and the soul, not the brain. Critics feel with their brains, they probably fuck with their brains too. But the worst part is they fill their brainy shit into you and then we’re all made to feel we have to analyze literary works based on all this brainy shittage. No, if you feel Beckett, you see something else: that his writing evokes a sort of sacred chaos, a blissful holiday for the brain and a profoundly pleasurable call to the spirit.
“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”
Writing a novel is like living in a house full of ghosts — even when you ignore them, they’re still there, waiting to talk to you. They have all the time in the world. No matter how much you avoid them, the time comes when you have to confront them. Hear them out. See what they have to say. Over time, their features become clearer, their voices stronger, their histories richer, their lives fuller.
Writing is hard for every last one of us…. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.