I haven’t blogged for the last week, because I’ve been writing. This is the official excuse, anyway; I have to date produced exactly two pages and about ten lines of side notes, most of which end in double question marks.
But! I have been writing. This is a rare and delightful occurrence for me, which is a bit sad considering how frequently I think about becoming a writer.
A former acquaintance once attempted to give me a writing pep-talk by quoting Dorothy Parker’s famous line, “Writing is the art of applying the ass to the chair.” (Which I can’t find a reliable reference for anywhere, sorry.)
The truth is though – it’s not. Or at least that might be where it ends up, but where it starts is with ideas. I think writing is the art of extracting ideas from the world around you and presenting them in a way that provokes aesthetic, emotional and/ or intellectual engagement from your reader. I’ve spent many long hours at the keyboard staring at a blank page unable to write anything, but far prefer the moment that some mind-blowing idea hits your brain like a paintball – on a train, in the shower, while listening to music.
You’d best pray, at that point, for a handy piece of paper and a pen.
There’s also something utterly weird about the creative process. It takes you to unexpected – sometimes very uncomfortable – places. Recently chatting with a friend about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, my friend made the observation that… well frankly, what kind of person comes up with a story so saturated with violence, gore, incest and general nastiness? I make no claims to know anything about George R.R.’s mental state, but I think it comes back to what I said before about a writer effectively being a sort of idea-sieve – nothing we can imagine hasn’t already happened or been hinted at in some form or another throughout the history of humankind (you only have to do a little bit of research into Europe in the Middle Ages to figure out that George R.R. didn’t have to look very far for tales of horror). The idea that truth is stranger than fiction gets bandied around a lot, but in some ways it all eventually boils down to stories.
So anyway. It’s coming along, in between the million other things going on in my life right now. Hopefully I’ll expand on my two pages soon 🙂
Elizabeth Gilbert says it so well: