Monthly Archives: August 2018

Writing About Writing: A Cautionary Tale


searching for origins

On Amazon there are over 8,000 books about writing. There are how-to-write-a-bestseller-books, how-to-survive-as-a-writer books, how-to-write-detective-story books, how-to-write-bodice-ripper books. Write-a-novel-in-five-days-books. No wait! Write-a-novel-in four-days.
For every book about writing there are a thousand online sites with tips about how to write & essays from writers about their process and their lives. There are point- of-view books, character books, plot books, subtext books, plot-arc books, character-arc books, voice books and tone books. Many are written by writers.(I wrote one : ) )
Books & online publications form a strong invisible community for a profession that works in silence. Intentional or not, they comfort loneliness and low morale–both occupational hazards of the writing profession. They all have concepts that ring* interior bells for a writer.

But they can mess things up if their advice about craft and their admonitions about ideal work hours, interfere with first drafts where the writer needs to discover the story haphazardly, on her own, discarding characters, disregarding plot, trying different tenses, perhaps at three in the morning. The books are talking about strands of something organic and parts never add up to the whole.
Ironically, When the writing happens, the writer has disappeared into the work and can’t really tell you how it got done. Nor can she ever see her work for the first time. Even so, she might write a book about what happened–a remarkable fishing story, where the most crucial events happened below the surface.

*had written “wring interior bells”–actually, both are true…