David Milch at work

By design, Milch wrote “Deadwood” under a gun-to-the-head deadline, regularly composing dialogue the day before a scene was to be shot. Milch is the only writer I have ever watched, at length, write. I sat in a dimly lit, air-conditioned trailer as Milch—surrounded by several silent acolytes, of varying degrees of experience and career accomplishment—sprawled on the floor in the middle of the room, staring at a large computer monitor a few feet away. An assistant at a keyboard took dictation as Milch, seemingly channeling voices from a remote dimension, put words into (and took words out of) the mouth of this or that character. The cursor on the screen advanced and retreated until the exchange sounded precisely right. The methodology evoked a séance, and it was necessary to remind oneself that the voices in fact issued from a certain precinct of the fellow on the floor’s brain.

“David Milch’s Third Act,” by Mark Singer

Now on Apple TV+

Defending Jacon Apple TV+ online poster

Details here.

“The point of change”

“Concentrate your narrative energy on the point of change. This is especially important for historical fiction. When your character is new to a place, or things alter around them, that’s the point to step back and fill in the details of their world. People don’t notice their everyday surroundings and daily routine, so when writers describe them it can sound as if they’re trying too hard to instruct the reader.”

Hilary Mantel’s Rules for Writers

Defending Jacob trailer

Coming April 24.

Victor Hugo

Portrait of M. Victor Hugo (1879) by Léon Bonnat. Click for hi-def image. (Via)

Art Is Hard

Art Is Hard hat

It certainly is. Buy it here.

Moby Mobile

Moby Dick animated book cover

Animated book covers is simply too good an idea not to happen. (Artwork by Javier Jensen.)

A character who yearns

“All works of fiction are built around a character who yearns, and if you’re in touch with what the character is yearning for, then every detail is filtered through that emotional center.”

Robert Olen Butler

Happy reading

Penguin Classics ad

This new ad campaign for Penguin Classics is lovely. (More here.)

Neil Gaiman: Make Good Art

When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing. This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and impossible. You do not. And you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can.

Neil Gaiman, “Make Good Art” (read it here)

Gatsby Unchained

Gatsby movie tie-in

A paperback tie-in version for the 1949 movie featuring Alan Ladd. Not exactly how I pictured Gatsby, but there’s no accounting for taste.

How Daniel Pink Writes

When I’m in the writing stages of a book, I keep a pretty rigid schedule. Each day I show up to my office (the garage behind my house) in the morning, around 8:30 a.m. And I give myself a word count — usually between 500 and 800 words. I don’t do anything else — no email, no phone calls, no Twitter — until I hit that word count. Sometimes I can do it in a few hours. Other times, it’s excruciating and I’m struggling well into the afternoon. For me, it’s the only process that works. If I write 600 words a day, 6 or 7 days a week, the pages begin to pile up.

Dan Pink (via)

“All good things must begin”

Wonderful journals from the science-fiction author Octavia Butler. More here.

Octavia Butler journal

Octavia Butler journal 2

More:

I will find the way to do this So be it! See to it!
(via)

We internalize all the negative things our culture feeds us about ourselves. We internalize all the negative things our parents (also self-hating) feed us about ourselves. We accept limits that do not exist — or would not if we were not so well prepared to accept them.
(via)

Strive Always — In All Ways At All Times — Always For Intensity. Cold or Hot, Hard or Soft, Gut-Wrenching or Deeply Stilling Utter Intensity.
(via)

John le Carré, 1965

33-year-old John le Carré appears on the “Merv Griffin Show,” October 14, 1965.

Gay Talese on Writer’s Block

This is exactly how I feel.

The Silence

Q: Looking back, how do you recall your 50-plus years as a writer?

Roth: Exhilaration and groaning. Frustration and freedom. Inspiration and uncertainty. Abundance and emptiness. Blazing forth and muddling through. The day-by-day repertoire of oscillating dualities that any talent withstands — and tremendous solitude, too. And the silence: 50 years in a room silent as the bottom of a pool, eking out, when all went well, my minimum daily allowance of usable prose.

Philip Roth

“Limited” by Carl Sandburg

I am riding on a limited express, one of the crack trains of the nation.
Hurtling across the prairie into blue haze and dark air go fifteen all-steel coaches holding a thousand people.
(All the coaches shall be scrap and rust and all the men and women laughing in the diners and sleepers shall pass to ashes.)
I ask a man in the smoker where he is going and he answers: “Omaha.”

From Chicago Poems (1916)

After you finish

“After you finish a book, you know, you’re dead. But no one knows you’re dead. All they see is the irresponsibility that comes in after the terrible responsibility of writing.”

Ernest Hemingway

Jonathan Haidt explains our contentious culture

From BillMoyers.com

Leon Uris: Research feeds your writing

Research to me is as important or more important than the writing. It is the foundation upon which the book is built.

Leon Uris