A wonderful recent interview with Ian McEwan, one of my idols. The image of him at his writing desk, above, is like a dream of how a writer’s study ought to look. Full interview below.
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.
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.
“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.”
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)
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)
Wonderful journals from the science-fiction author Octavia Butler. More here.
I will find the way to do this So be it! See to it!
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.
Strive Always — In All Ways At All Times — Always For Intensity. Cold or Hot, Hard or Soft, Gut-Wrenching or Deeply Stilling Utter Intensity.
This is exactly how I feel.