All posts filed under: Writing

Huxley

All writers are inspired–at one point or another–to write. But I’m not at all sure how many of them recall the exact moment when they defintively decided to become a writer. Maybe every writer does. I was in college, sitting in a tan corduroy armchair reading a paperback copy of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. There was an oversized “Devil’s Haircut” poster on the wall behind me and a forest green, low pile carpet under my feet. It was past time for a good vacuuming. It was my second reading of the book; the first had come in high school. I was a fan of it in the tenth grade but by the time I got to college I’d decided I needed to read it again. I proceeded to go from Brave New World to Brave New World Revisited. This led to Island, The Doors of Perception, and Heaven and Hell. But it was the caste system (Alphas, Betas, Deltas, etc.) described in Huxley’s seminal work that gave me my eureka moment. I believed that …

Competition

A friend of mine and I run together a couple times per week. Right now, he’s training for a ten-mile race. Together, we run a fraction of that amount because three miles is just about my limit. I’ve done four but regretted it later. Obviously, he’s the better runner. He’s less winded than I am when we hit the three-mile mark and can usually outrun me in the final sprint. But this doesn’t bother me and there’s a reason. I lift weights and he doesn’t. Pull-ups? Push-ups? I’ve got him beat. When it comes to competition, we often neglect to think about our other skills. That may not be the point in a direct heat but it’s important. Not being able to run faster or lift more than someone else doesn’t mean we’re a loser. It could mean we’re winning at something else. I’ve never been particularly competitive. I wasn’t athletic (or maybe coordinated) when I was young. But I could probably make an argument that I have become extremely competitive with age–at least with …

Film

I spent about ten years trying to make a film that would get noticed by Hollywood-types. I got so far as to have a short featured on the IFC Channel’s Media Lab Shorts Uploaded before realizing that the novel suited me better. That doesn’t mean that I’ve lost all interest in film. And it may be no surprise that my focus was on the writing previously, but I’m currently working on learning a bit more about cinematography. It’s possible that filmmaking is as important to me as it ever was because one of the driving forces behind my writing is the possibility of seeing a novel adapted into a film. In fact, the last novel I submitted to agents was written as a screenplay first. I used it as a kind of outline. I’d like to see the writing I do as cinematic. I think it is, in part, because I write by watching the film version in my head, transcribing what I see. I’m not sure if that’s unusual and needs unpacking but that’s …

Rejection

Between novels, short stories, and, now, a mini-documentary, I find myself submitting to agents, journals, and festivals almost continuously. This means that rejection is a constant companion. And it can be difficult to deal with. When I’m faced with a barrage of “Not for us,” or “No thanks,” it’s important that I keep a level head. Especially because rejection has several meanings, which tend to fall into one of the following categories: Insufficient Quality Excessive Quantity Lack of Compatibility Extreme Exclusivity Admittedly, quality is a depressing reason to be rejected but it’s not the most frustrating. If the work isn’t of a high enough quality it can be improved, so there’s hope. All that’s necessary is more work. Sometimes years of work. When it comes to issues of quantity, we may find that our work has been edged out by similar writing or a piece that has been written by someone of greater stature. In other words, the market is flooded. If work is sent into an agent or journal (or any other entity calling …

Slowing Down

After almost a decade of writing fiction every day, I’ve decided to slow down. There are a number of reasons but I think it can be summed up best by something I heard at a family dinner recently: “If you hate it, why do it?” I don’t hate writing. Far from. In fact, I’m finding that my current writing is some of the best I’ve done yet. And I’m beginning to wonder if that’s not a direct result of slowing down. This is far from certain. It could just be that I’m continuing to improve over time. Regardless, I’ve gone from writing seven days a week to about four, which is allowing me to spend more time mulling over scenes while simultaneously leaving me a lot less frustrated. I can usually turn out a complete manuscript in a year (including four or so drafts). This new schedule means it’s going to take almost two and that delays my next shot at getting an agent. That’s the real crux of the issue. But I’ve started to …

Bourdain

I’ve been inspired by Anthony Bourdain’s work for years. He was an award-winning writer and an extremely effective one but his travels might be the real reason I considered him one of my heroes. …