On Not Writing

I write six days a week – seven when I can get away with it.  Some people, like Harlan Ellison, are so composed inside their magnificent brains that they can literally write stories in one draft.  Others, like John Irving, spend months or even years creating outlines and snippets of prose before they launch into the first draft.  I’m more like a rock polisher.  You put the story into the tumbler of my scattered brains and it turns over and over for many months and many drafts until you either end up with a shiny rock or a turd.  Because, as we all know, you can put a turd into a rock polisher for as long as you want but it will never shine.

So, for me to turn out a shiny rock of a story, I have to write a lot and very often.  Also, I like it.  But is that necessarily a good thing?  Something I’ve always said (at least since I discovered it ten years ago) is that you have to think about your story and sometimes you get more thinking done when you’re not typing.

The reason I bring this up is I’ve been sick for a solid month. So sick that I haven’t been writing.  I tried several times to publish posts on this blog but nothing came out.  As far as my current project is concerned, not a word.  I’ve spent a lot of time curled up in bed and when I wasn’t hopefully listening for the beating of the wings of the angel of death, I was thinking about the project I was working on before I collapsed.  All that thinking has opened up the story for me a little bit and now, when I do get back to work, I’m looking forward to making new headway.

Also, this whole experience has really reinforced my love of audio books.  Even if you’re so sick you can’t look at words on a page, you can listen to someone reading to you.  I happened to pick Stephen King’s 11/22/63 right before I became largely bedridden and, let me tell you, that was a lucky choice.  Craig Wasson narrates as well or better than anyone I’ve ever heard and the story is surprisingly layered.

I had originally waved off this book because I was worried it was another baby boomer attempt to further lionize JFK but, so far, that is not the case.  Highly recommended (although, be warned, I haven’t finished it yet so the ending could totally stink).

Wish me well.  Seriously, wish me back to health.


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