This week a group of ABNA contestants, including myself, decided to find all the entries that had zero reviews and help them out, since we know how much we like it when people review our work. During that process, I found a couple more gems:
- Broken Angel by B. Keith Murphy – a religious-fantasy-satire? it’s quite difficult to describe but was very cool and fun to read
- A Cruel Harvest by Paul Reid – historical-adventure-romance, perhaps in the vein of Wilbur Smith’s Monsoon
Meanwhile, earlier this month British paper The Guardian featured the views of 9 writers on writing. I didn’t know any of them, except Joyce Carol Oates, which I will blame on their being mostly British instead of my being mostly under-read. Anyway, these were my fave parts.
The joy of writing for a living is that you get to do it all the time. The misery is that you have to, whether you’re in the mood or not. I wouldn’t be the first writer to point out that doing something so deeply personal does become less jolly when you have to keep on at it, day after cash-generating day. To use a not ridiculous analogy: Sex = nice thing. Sex For Cash = probably less fun, perhaps morally uncomfy and psychologically unwise. Sitting alone in a room for hours while essentially talking in your head about people you made up earlier and then writing it down for no one you know does have many aspects which are not inherently fulfilling.
I get great pleasure from writing, but not always, or even usually. Writing a novel is largely an exercise in psychological discipline – trying to balance your project on your chin while negotiating a minefield of depression and freak-out. Beginning is daunting; being in the middle makes you feel like Sisyphus; ending sometimes comes with the disappointment that this finite collection of words is all that remains of your infinitely rich idea. Along the way, there are the pitfalls of self-disgust, boredom, disorientation and a lingering sense of inadequacy, occasionally alternating with episodes of hysterical self-congratulation as you fleetingly believe you’ve nailed that particular sentence and are surely destined to join the ranks of the immortals, only to be confronted the next morning with an appalling farrago of clichés that no sane human could read without vomiting. But when you’re in the zone, spinning words like plates, there’s a deep sense of satisfaction and, yes, enjoyment…
Joyce Carol Oates:
Most writers find first drafts painfully difficult, like climbing a steep stairs, the end of which isn’t in sight. Only just persevere! Eventually, you will get where you are going, or so you hope. And when you get there, you will not ask why? – the relief you feel is but a brief breathing spell, before beginning again with another inspiration, another draft, another steep climb.