Reading Eleanor and Park. Thinking about the passage of time, a writer problem that often stalls me for good. Rainbow Rowell takes care of it breezily: Park figures he’ll give it to her the next day but the next day she isn’t in school, nor is she there the day after that. Boom, just like that three days have passed.
I read Dani Shapiro yesterday. Still Writing. It was incredibly helpful. The deceptively difficult task of staying on track*. The holy grail of practice. The sense of fraudulence.
She said trust yourself as a writer, and, helpfully, you will probably never fully trust yourself as a writer.
Find a few good friends to read your work, and use them.
The internet is crack.
You will resist the practice. That is part of the practice. The secret of your story is hidden in the resistance. Try not to walk away. Because if you walk away, and you come back, you will still be lost. Maybe more lost, depending on how long you walked away for, and how you walked. (Walking, for example, is better than walking to the Internet, or lunch with friends, or a house cleaning project.)
The internet is crack.
And she said something that sounded like “practice is everything” (my new favorite saying): you think the goal is finishing this novel. You think it’s getting published. You think it’s getting good reviews, and watching it rise up on the best-seller list. But those are just the flotsam and jetsam side-effects of the actual and only goal: practice. After you finish, you have to begin again. And again. And again.
The Internet is crack.
And the fact that she said those things, and I already know those things, made me think, in a different way than I have before, oh. I must be a writer. And then she said the thing that made me love her less: real writers don’t make outlines. Oh no, I thought. I make outlines.
Well, we all fall victim to it. The ironic habit of saying, there is no right way to do this, let me show you the right way. She should have said trust yourself and stopped there.
(*You think that the number one requirement for being a good writer is skill, but actually, the first and possibly only requirement is stamina. She called it endurance. Are you still here, doing it, after all the failures that will inevitably pile up around you?)