Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Writer's Guilt

In a Life magazine piece (May 24, 1963), James Baldwin shared with Jane Howard:

[...] if you’re an artist, you’re guilty of a crime: not that you’re aware, which is bad enough, but that you see things other people don’t admit are there.

This Baldwin quote reminded of a conversation I had with a colleague about The Allure of Nymphets, which is the book I was writing at the time about nympholepsy in pop culture. 

I shared with my colleague that I was writing about an episode of HBO's and Jonathan Ames' Bored to Death where, in a effort to seduce a writer, Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman), a Saint Ann's High School student pretended to be a NYU student.  

After fleeing the half-nude nymphet and her distraught father through a bathroom window, Jonathan realized that he left the copy of a movie script behind. 

When Jonathan went to his best friend Ray (Zach Galifianakis) for advice on how to get the script back, Ray advised Jonathan to simply call the dad and ask for the script, which was reasonable advice, but Jason reminded Ray:
"She’s only 16-years-old!"
"You didn’t sodomize her did you?" Ray asked.
"No.” Jonathan responded.
"That’s too bad." Ray said despondently.
When I shared with my colleague, who was a fan of the show, that I was shocked by Ray's question and response, she said that she didn't remember that scene. 

I suspected that she was lying, and Baldwin's quote raises my suspicion. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Spare Time Novelist

Cosmopolitan's op-ed editor Jessica Goodman shared "How I wrote a novel in my spare time: What, like it’s hard? (Uh, yeah. It’s really, really hard.)"

Despite working "40+ hours a week (in the middle of a pandemic, no less)", Goodman was able to publish the YA thriller They Wish They Were Us, which I first read about in Arts|Fiction section of The Pennsylvania Gazette (Sep|Oct 2020). (I'm currently on page 168 of 327.)

How did Goodman do it? She shared:

First, I found my motivation

After complaining to a friend, she got real with me: “Do something or stop whining!” She was right. I’d never write the book if I never made the time to, well, write the book. Seems obvious, but I needed to hear it!

Then I made a plan

I started writing every morning before work from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and in four-hour chunks on Saturdays and Sundays.

Honestly, it’s my expert-level snack game that helped get me through (Wheat Thins + Nutella = fuel + happiness).

I learned to deal with rejection

I started pitching my draft to literary agents in February 2018—and got rejected more than 15 times.

I found my rhythm

We sold the book in late 2018, but I didn’t slow down then—or when my book hit shelves. Now my early-morning hours are dedicated to my next novel, and I’m still juggling that with my day job.

Thus, after Goodman was told “Do something or stop whining!”, she began writing from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM - Monday through Friday and in four-hour chunks on the weekends. After she completed the novel, she persisted, despite 15 rejections, until she found an agent. And almost immediately,  she began working on her next novel. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Writers Are Most Alive While Alone (i.e., Introverts)?


James Baldwin wrote in the essay “The Creative Process” (1962):
The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid: the state of being alone.

Per The Paris Review's "The Art of Fiction No. 151, Martin Amis said, 

"The first thing that distinguishes a writer is that he is most alive when he is alone."

And we related previously that Jenn Granneman shared on the blog Introvert, Dear that John Green, The Fault in Our Stars author, opined: 

“Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.” 

Of course, there are a number of writers who are not introverts (e.g., Hemingway); thus, like Baldwin advised, they must actively cultivate the state of being alone to attain the state of feeling alive.