Happy are they who don't doubt themselves and whose pens fly across the page. I myself hesitate, I falter, I become angry and fearful, my drive diminishes as my taste improves, and I brood more over an ill-suited word than I rejoice over a well-proportioned paragraph.
The artist must raise everything to a higher level: he is like a pump; inside him is a great pipe reaching down into the bowels of things, the deepest layers. He sucks up what was pooled beneath the surface and brings it forth into the sunlight in giant sprays.
By the end, you should be inside your character, actually operating from within somebody else, and knowing him pretty well, as that person knows himself or herself. You’re sort of a predator, an invader of people.
I don’t struggle because I was always the stupidest kid in the class and the idea that I would ever be brilliant was knocked out of me in the third grade. So I’m not sitting around trying to be brilliant, or Shakespeare. I’m just trying to get the work I have in my head down on the page in the best way I possibly know how without putting that horrible pressure on myself of saying “I’m going to write it today and in 200 years at Princeton they will be studying these words.” Yeah, I want my stuff to be as good as I can conceivably make it, but I am not going to put that on my head.
I think that to write well and convincingly, one must be somewhat poisoned by emotion. Dislike, displeasure, resentment, fault-finding, imagination, passionate remonstrance, a sense of injustice—they all make fine fuel.
You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there's no free lunch. Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but essentially you're on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine.
I am a trader of jacks and a jack of all trades!
Do you like this blog? You can have links to blog posts delivered to your e-mail address. Please click here.