a journal of observations, obsessions and inspirations

Writing

Posted in: Writing

Writing Books – not exactly the “glamorous life”

How’m I supposed to explain it to my friends? I mean, that was me, the one who swore I’d never put myself through the anti-social agony, the jigsaw-puzzle-from-hell nightmare, the mano a mano word-wrangling that is writing another book. People tell me the life of an author is “glamorous,” which I’m gonna say can only be in that really puzzling category of someone else’s job always seeming more interesting than[…]

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Posted in: Writing

Accuracy versus entertainment – 10 rounds

Nearly 140 interviews into the tenor book, I’m trying to wrangle all the material. I have binders full of transcripts, and tapes yet to be transcribed. Typing up a verbatim record of the conversation is hard to do. The hardest part, I’m not kidding, is deciding on the punctuation. Think about it: no one talks in complete sentences unless he’s reading a speech. And when you’re discussing topics and themes[…]

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Posted in: Writing

She’s back… with some whine

Has it really been a whole year? Ay ay ay. Been working on the site, new design, mental commitment… hasn’t quite translated into sustained activity. I tell myself I’m getting there (does that count?) and console myself with awareness that this is connected to my real work, my writing. And try not to make myself miserable with thinking about how much the real world interferes with that work. But it[…]

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Posted in: Writing

Finding my writer’s voice

montage of forms of writing, typewriter, script, hieroglyphics

Since the fourth grade, I’d been pushed, prodded, scolded and guided to a particular style of writing. Something formal. Suitable for school. In dozens of English, history, literature courses, I learned how to write appropriately for class papers. Later on, I’d learn how to write appropriately in an office, whether I was working for attorneys, in marketing and corporations selling products. Sure, I could do it. But none of it[…]

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Posted in: Writing

Am I now, or have I ever been?

Things are not what they seem. Depending on the day, my world can range from slightly off balance to pretty much skewed to completely upside down. Talking about a life in balance and taking care of oneself, that’s all well and good – in theory. But taking care of even one “self” is a challenge (I’m supposed to say) or pretty flippin’ impossible if you ask me, what with the[…]

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Posted in: Writing

Playing with writing

text printed on old typewriter, New Chapter

Novelists have the luxury of leading us down the neural pathways of a character’s mind, allowing us to wander the by-ways, stopping at every scenic overlook on our way to Casterbridge, Casablanca, Mordor, Starkfield, the Land of Oz, the epoch of belief, the heart of darkness. We laugh, we cry; we suffer, sympathize and triumph with the characters in a novel as the author lets us in – leisurely, tangentially,[…]

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Posted in: Writing

Questioning art, words and form

cut-out letters spell WORDS hung from strings like marionettes

How do words become art? When does a story turn into literature? Can we view a checklist of the qualifications and figure it out? This is literature, this is not, this might be… I’m not sure how I would begin to define, let alone get a whole bunch of people to agree on, the parameters. What if we started with a simpler question, something like What is art? A painter[…]

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Posted in: Writing

What you know and who you are

closeup of fingerprint whorls, digitized in blue

Write what you know, they say. We always answer back: But what about this one, or that one who didn’t exactly know, if you know what I mean—I mean, what about In Cold Blood? How about Philip K. Dick, whose classic novel was made into a film called Blade Runner? Peter Robb wrote a detailed biography of someone he’d never met, based on almost no information about his subject’s life.[…]

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Posted in: Writing

The art of delay – procrastination as a means to an end

lightbulbs hang in front of stucco background

In our hurry-up, gotta-have-it, don’t-waste-a-minute world where productivity is the holy grail and idleness is the biggest loser, missing a deadline looms larger than original sin. All the excuses in the world cannot expiate the offender. It doesn’t matter how clever, intriguing, original, bizarre or, even in the end, true the excuse may be, the offense is never fully forgiven. The offendee can righteously shrug a shoulder, wave a hand[…]

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