Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Thing About Writing

I don’t know how it works for everybody, but I know how it works for me. I intend, with the completion of each chapter, to go bounding into the next, to keep the momentum going and to push right through to the end. It never seems to work that way, though. Instead, I approach each new chapter like a dog approaches a place to nap. I sidle up to it slowly, sniff it a few times, complete three circles, and then get to it.

That is exactly what’s happening with Chapter 22 of Michael Drayton, Detective Guy. Psychologically, I’m ready to go forward. I just haven’t come up with the right opening sentence yet. I actually put down a couple of sentences three days ago, but removed them yesterday. It didn’t sound right, didn’t hit me right. And then, a few minutes ago, I opened up the previous chapter and read the end, hoping that something in there would inspire me. I just ended up rewriting the last paragraph of Chapter 21 and coming up with nothing for Chapter 22.

But that’s the process. I’ll come up with something soon. I’ll be taking a shower or going for a walk or reading something that has nothing to do with the book, and it will all open up in a moment of rapturous insight. That’s the system, and you can’t fight city hall.

(This post is a mirror of one on my other blog, Are You Happy Now, Norman Mailer.)

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