From Write Right Now. I am thinking we should probably read more of these books—lessons to be learned.
Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four author George Orwell’s 109th birthday just passed, andThe Atlantic led us to an excerpt from the writer’s 1946 essay, Why I Write. The candid work reveals what Orwell believes are four explicit motives for writing. “They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living,” he mused. For Orwell, writers put pen to paper — or these days, fingers to keyboard — out of “sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose.” The essay examines how these motives influenced his own work, then boldly concludes the following: “I have made it appear as though my motives in writing were wholly public-spirited. I don’t want to leave that as the final impression. All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery.”
At interesting interview. The sad part, for me, was this reference to John D. McDonald:
King is sanguine. “You know what you can’t tell what is going to last, what’s not going to last. There’s Kurt Vonnegut quote about John D. McDonald saying “200 years from now, when people want to know what the 20th century they ll go to John D. McDonald”, but I’m not sure that’s true – it seems like he’s almost been forgotten. But I try and reread a John D. McDonald novel whenever I come down here.” (MacDonald’s name misspelled)
I have fond memories of reading John D. MacDonald, back in then 70′s and ’80s. I read the entire Travis McGee series twice, the second time in the sequence they were written—good stuff. And his Clemmie from 1958 was an amazing work, a book hard to find these days.
From The New York Times, a debate on the use of the book blurb, including Stephen King, who said,
The idea that a writer can bring his core audience into the tent with a blurb … you might as well try herding cats.
Check out the debate. As for me, I used them on Waiting for Zoë and would do so again.
Ever wonder how some writers produce book after book? Why some people are just overflowing with ideas? It’s all about living a writing life, and that is what I am going to focus on: the small things you can do to improve the quantity and quality of your writing.
Writing is one of those things that all writers love to talk about doing, but the truth is, writing is easier said than done. Writing tends to be a solitary activity and it is hard (after that initial burst of creativity passes) to pull yourself away from your family and friends to sit down at the keyboard and face the blank page….
It’s take me many years of writing, and whole lot of reading (the best? On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King) to figure out what really works. Here’s my list of 5 things, and I’d love to hear what works for you.
Read more at the Squidoo link above.
Stephen King, James Frey nominated for Bad Sex in Fiction Award, in The Washington Post, opens with a bit of humor:
The competition is — um — stiff for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award this year. In the running for the prize, which is given out by British journal the Literary Review each year, are notable authors Stephen King, Haruki Murakami and James Frey.
Author Stephen King. (Joe Kohen – Getty Images)
From Today in Literature:
On this day in 1947 Stephen King was born. As told in On Writing, his 2000 “memoir of the craft,” King’s childhood was formative of the man and his themes, “a kind of curriculum vitae.” He denies any shape or through-line to his recollections, but this seems disingenuous: growing up may be “a fogged-out landscape from which occasional memories appear like isolated trees” but the trees cited are mostly “the kind that look as if they might like to grab and eat you.”
Certainly Durham, Maine was not “Fern Hill.” King’s first memory is of playing the Ringling Brothers Circus Strongboy and dropping the cinder block on his toes. His second, aged four, is of Eula-Beulah, one of an endless stream of babysitters hired by his mother — his father disappeared when King was two, having gone for the proverbial package of cigarettes. Eula-Beulah was very large, and prone to gas: “Sometimes when she was so afflicted, she would throw me on the couch, drop her wool-skirted butt on my face, and let loose. ‘Pow!’ she’d cry in high glee.” She was fired when she fed him seven fried eggs for breakfast and locked him in the closet for the day, where he “yarked” and slept until mom came home from work. Other memories, related here or in Danse Macabre (1981), are similar, or similarly placed-subterranean forces, fright-night drive-ins, sick-bed seclusions, creaking-attic discoveries. (Emphasis mine.)
The Eula-Beulah bit doesn’t sound like much fun. Read the whole thing at the link.
An interview with Stephen King at The Atlantic. The introduction:
The May 2011 issue of The Atlantic features the short story “Herman Wouk Is Still Alive,” by Stephen King. The story’s origins are unusual. As part of The Atlantic‘s package on “First Drafts,” James Parker, The Atlantic‘s entertainment columnist, talked to King about how the story came into being, about King’s creative process, about the state of short fiction today, and about the relative merits of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest as background music to write to. They spoke on April 1.