Life is good.
I told my 150-year-old neighbor Eleanor I’d finished a book. She was on her knees in her garden, assaulting weeds. I’d say she was in her garden “weeding,” except the animosity Eleanor feels toward harmless, if unwelcome, botanicals is so evident, “assaulting” is the more appropriate term. If you’re hell-bent on becoming a weed, don’t apply for an apprenticeship in Eleanor’s garden.
“Is it fiction again?” she asked.
“Well, yes. Fiction is what I write.”
Chalk up one more non-sale.
I’d been avoiding a scene in Rain. I should have drafted it months ago. But I didn’t know how to end it. One night last week, tired, eager to go to bed and read—to make other authors work for me—I said, “I’m going to write that scene, even if it sucks.”
Everything was fine until I got to the end. I sat there, faced with the necessity of typing something, anything. And it came to me. What I needed to happen happened. The idea, the twist, the connection, the integration, the oomph—the words that had been incubating and hatching in my subconscious—channeled down from my brain through my neck, along my arms, all the way to my sprightly, dancing fingers, and clickety-clacked themselves onto a reluctantly accommodating page.
Writing is research. We tend to think of writing as making a record of what we’ve created, or what we’ve witnessed, experienced, learned, and discovered. But the act of writing is itself a research tool. Because by forcing yourself to clickety-clack, to put the words down, you force yourself to be enlightened.
This will be my last blog post for a while. I want to devote myself to The Lascaux Review. I’d like to end this phase of my social media career with a message to writer friends who are struggling to break through or climb out of a slump. It’s a quote from Winston Churchill. It’s the only quote you’ll ever need. Tape it to the wall above your computer:
Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.
But wait! There’s one more. I recently watched the movie “Cloud Atlas.” It took two viewings to understand what was going on, because of the many characters. After the second viewing I decided it was a movie that deserved to be seen twice.
One character says to his son-in-law, who intends to join the abolitionist movement, “No matter what you do, it will never amount to anything more than a single drop in a limitless ocean.”
To which the son-in-law replies, “What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?”
Tell your stories. Record what you’ve witnessed, experienced, learned, and discovered. Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never.