word craft


The writer’s fundamental contradiction

Bright ShadowIt usu­al­ly takes me a year to write one of my nov­els. Some­times more, some­times less. The longest time peri­od was four­teen years, for Bright Shad­ow. The short­est peri­od was one day, for S.O.R. Losers. There are expla­na­tions for both extremes, but I will save them for anoth­er post. Read­ers, how­ev­er, are wel­come to read the books and see if they can see why. My cur­rent project has been two years in the mak­ing. The first effort was not very good, and required exten­sive rewrit­ing. Why was it not very good? In essence, it was too close to my per­son­al expe­ri­ence. Which is to say I was not able to take what was real and mean­ing­ful to me, and make it real and mean­ing­ful to read­ers. This flies in the advice often giv­en to young writ­ers: “Write what you know.” The prob­lem of course, is the writer’s fun­da­men­tal con­tra­dic­tion: A writer must be objec­tive about per­son­al expe­ri­ence to make it a sub­jec­tive expe­ri­ence for the read­er. Nev­er easy.

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