Tag Archives: on writing

The Counting of Words

Stephen King has written that he usually writes 2,000 words a day. He has a routine. He writes in the morning. In the afternoon, he reads.

I am unable to maintain a writing routine.

The most I ever wrote was 4 or 5,000 words in one sitting.

It took me three years to finish a sonnet.

I often write 200 words of fiction and feel rather satisfied.

20,000 words of non-fiction and 20,000 words of fiction are not at all the same.

One might take me four months, the other might take me four years.

I have not found E.B. White’s quote that, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper,” to be true in my life.

Sometimes, with my fiction, like with Edge Play X, for example, which is my work most akin to standard fiction, I have pushed through on certain chapters or paragraphs. The technique is different for a standard work of fiction.

For my literary fiction, I wait. I cannot manufacture it. I wait for it to arrive. It makes the back of my neck tingle. I feel light-headed when it comes. Certainly this is one of the reasons my literary fiction is unsuccessful. It is not writing. It is a personal spiritual experience. Doesn’t that sound cheesy. I don’t know how else to describe it. Feel the spirit working through you, the guru says.

It isn’t spiritual. It’s psychological. It’s all these imprints in the subconscious coming forward. It is a representation of unspoken beliefs about society and people and how we love one another. My brother was a schizophrenic and I am a writer.

Afflictions like that tend to run in families.

It wakes me up at night sometimes when it comes.

How long now have I been working on this latest book? Not even 20,000 words long. So close now. Why do I not feel a need to publish my works of literary fiction? I wrote them for myself. It isn’t selfish, it’s cathartic, like popping a boil.

Ha. New writing quote. Writing is like slicing open a boil.

The best writing I have ever read was often smeared with bodily fluids.

I can’t be the only woman who has had sexual fantasies involving Dostoyevsky. Never about Nabokov. 

Fiction word count this week: 0.

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Addict

In many ways, being a writer is like being an addict. For an addict, it is difficult, if not impossible, to quit. They relapse. When they don’t have their fix it still occupies their mind. And even when they aren’t using they are never really “cured.” Once an addict, always an addict.

Writing, at least, isn’t as destructive as say, heroin abuse, and in rare cases it might even lead to fame and fortune. It might lead to long stretches of being alone or ignoring those around you or obsessive thoughts about particular paragraphs and sentences when a person should be thinking of more practical things like not putting the milk into the pantry.

I have tried to stop writing and have been unsuccessful. I kept going back to it like a smoker hiding in the shed, just a few paragraphs to get them out of my head, even though this piece will probably never be picked up by a publisher, or will maybe  get very far with a very good publisher only to be turned down, like my first work of literary fiction. And two years later all those paragraphs have added up to what I consider to be my best literary work yet, one created for no other reason than that I simply cannot help myself.

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The Beautiful Uselessness

Why do I write? I write for the same reason that Mallory climbed.

He said this about climbing:

The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ and my answer must at once be, ‘It is no use.’ There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It’s no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.

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