When you’re writing your first novel, there’s no pressure because there are no expectations. But for the second, there is pressure because people know you’re an author and expectations abound. Julie Otsuka @Powell’s Books shares her thoughts on successfully tackling the 2nd book.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
“What Angus Fletcher taught me, and teaches others, is a very complex matter of what it means for thinking to take place in a literary work. It’s the question of how Shakespeare thinks in his plays and sonnets, of how Henry James thinks in his late, intricate work, or of how Emily Dickinson thinks in her extraordinary poems. I've tried to extend Angus Fletcher’s way of looking at the mind as represented in art to the greatest American poet, Walt Whitman, who thinks through metaphors. My real subject, increasingly, is metaphorical thinking – which is how Shakespeare and all poets and novelists and storywriters think.”
“Sometimes I experimentally write out a first paragraph – or middle paragraph, even – of a novel which I feel no obligation to write. Those kind of dabblings I always set down in a green, ring-bound A4 notebook. It’s full of paragraphs from novels I will never complete, or hardly start. But sooner or later, one of those paragraphs will snag my attention, and I’ll come back to it asking: why does that interest me so much, why does that seem to offer a peculiar kind of mental freedom? And so I might find myself adding a page or two. It was with a complete free hand, for example, that I once wrote what turned out to be the opening of – with no clear sense that I was committed to anything at all, I was just playing with narrative positions, with tone of voice, with a certain descriptive moment. Or I might decide that what I’ve written belongs to the middle of a novel, and then I’ll spend some idle time tracing out a beginning. Then abandoning it. It’s a way of tricking myself into writing novels.”
The Browser's Literature and Writing sections are definitely worth examining when you get a moment. (Haven't poked through the others sections to offer an opinion, so that's not a back-handed compliment.)
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Dilbert creator Scott Adams has an interesting take on how boredom leads to superior creativity. Not everyone who comments afterwards agrees, but that doesn’t make the article less relevant.
I would also say that times of great ugliness can create an unexpected climate of creative productivty. I just escaped extended months of ugliness, but was surprised at how the last six weeks of that season was accompanied by an unexpected bonanza of disciplined creativity.
Too often in the past I got bogged down or allowed unhappy circumstances to grind down my writing progress. This time (perhaps because I was so desperate to flee parts of my reality?), it was the opposite. I flew to the laptop at every opportunity to see what my muse would reveal. (Frankly, I was shocked she was showing up so often.) Sometimes time and circumstance would allow me only a paragraph, sometimes it unleashed pages, but at every point my story progressed, producing a great peace within me, probably because it was something that went right as everything around me exploded.
I’m not sure I’d choose to continue that combination of progress through explosions, but I suddenly understand how Goethe (family man, lawyer, politician) could write despite too many responsibilities. It was yet another lesson to be learned through creating. I’m sure there are so many more.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them." -George Bernard Shaw
So what do you want your circumstances to be soon? Whatever it is, I guarantee it will push you out of your comfort zone to achieve it!