I hate it when people say things like, I became a writer because I was a terrible house painter. Which means “it’s the only thing I’m good at,” which is another way of saying “I’m too good at it to do anything else.” Maybe I’m just jealous. I’m not especially good at writing. I don’t even have a mind full of stories. It’s more like a peculiar tic, ocd, a refusal to give up the idea of myself as a writer, in spite of any encouraging signs. Like a person who talks in rhyme because some part of her brain malfunctioned and she can’t stop.
I’m reading Wintergirls. Yesterday this led me to Laurie Halse Anderson’s blog, which led the blog of Markus Zusak (Book Thief) and then Tim Tharp (Spectacular Now). The world, I discover, is full of writers, and some of them are mature and helpful, and some of them are full of themselves, and sometimes the mature ones write books I don’t like, and sometimes the assholes write books I adore. I think it might be bad for me to read all this. Every. Single. One. Says that you have to write daily. Every. Single. One. Anderson had a great piece of advice– if you get stuck and you can’t figure out what to do next, brainstorm ten terrible things that might happen to your character, and ten great things that might happen to your character. From that pile of possibility, the next step will surely emerge. Zusak said that you can only become a writer by writing. It’s in the process of writing that you discover the writer that you are. You have to slog through the daily dross of it, and then you meet yourself.