Archive for July, 2007


Hard drug, soft center

Writing, damn hard.
–Anglo-Finnish poet Anselm Hollo

I’ve often bumped up against this idea that writing is difficult, and felt a little guilty, as I guess I was supposed to.

Because I don’t find writing hard.

And here by writing I mean the act of writing itself, not the miserable, vertigo-producing encounter with a brand-new writing project, where not one word has been
written and you slowly come to the realization that your imagination resembles nothing so much as an immense, arid plain with a dried up riverbed running
across it.

Beating your forehead on the keyboard in such a situation doesn’t really help, though sometimes the random keystrokes caused by head bashing can be faked into something readable.

Nor do I mean the horrible anxiety of having finished a piece of writing and, as the euphoria of creativity begins to wear off, wondering if it’s any good at all and whether anyone will read it without derision and contempt.

No, I’m talking about the actual act of writing. Putting down words, whether fast or slow, steady or intermittent, on computer screen, typing paper or yellow legal pad with no. 2 Ticonderoga pencil.

Really writing.

Boy, that feels good to me. As an old substance abuser from way back, I can tell you: there’s no drug like it.

Even when it’s not going particularly well, when your whole writing day is haunted by the quiet certainty that you’ll end up trashing it all, it is still a pleasure to put words down.

And, no, I’m not talking about simply flinging down whatever and calling it done. I don’t mean you shouldn’t go over and over what you’ve written and make it better.

But I find that kind of rewriting and careful editing pleasurable, too. In fact, even more enjoyable, since the nagging anxiety that you won’t be able to write anything is killed off and words are on the page.

It’s a blast, is what. A joy. A true pleasure.

Everyone is different, and for some writers maybe it really is tough. But I can’t help but be a little suspicious when I hear writers talking about how hard it is to write. Maybe it’s a little like not telling anyone about a favorite vacation spot or fishing
hole, so that massive numbers of people don’t show up and ruin it. If people knew that writing is an intoxicating nerve drug resulting in euphoria, more of them might try it and then where would we be? There are too many fucking writers already.

But writing is not hard the way stacking concrete block is hard. It’s not hard the way mopping out a public restroom is hard, or the way any low-paid crappy job you’re forced to do is hard.

Maybe describing the process as wrenching and metaphysically difficult is a way to avoid accusations of laziness. It’s a bid for respect: blood on the page.

Well, I don’t have guilt there. I’ve already accepted that I am bone lazy and don’t want to break my back to put money in someone else’s pocket.

I’d rather stay home and write.

But it could be that I’m a facile, easily pleased slob, shallow and glib, content to gorge to repletion on low-hanging fruit. So of course it would be easy for me.

But what about you?

[crossposted from the Killer Year blog]


Killers comin’ at ya

Running into my local Walgreen’s at lunch for something, what should I see looking back at me from the paperback rack?


I love buying books from drugstores. It always reminds me of being a kid, walking up to the drugstore in summer to score reading material. You expect to find good books in a bookstore, but coming across a really good book on a turning wire rack in a drugstore was more exciting just because you never knew what you’d find.

Full disclosure: Jason Pinter is one of the Killer Year group of debut novelists, to which I also belong.

The Mark is going with me on the plane to NYC tomorrow, on my way to Thrillerfest.

The Mark
by Jason Pinter
MIRA Books
July 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2489-8
ISBN-10: 0-7783-2489-3

Another great book from a Killer Year compadre that has just come out is The Cleaner by Brett Battles:


The word on the street is that The Cleaner will clean your clock for you. I’m looking forward to snatching up a copy at Thrillerfest, making Brett sign it, and reading it on the flight home.

The Cleaner
by Brett Battles
June 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0-440-24370-0
$22.oo retail • hardcover

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 123 other followers