Posted in books, writing

Authors in Conversation at Newsweek

Just thought some of you might be interested in this. It’s a roundtable with several authors (Susan Orlean, Lawrence Block, Elizabeth Strout, Robert Caro, Kurt Andersen) in the July 13, 2009 issue of Newsweek:

The Write Stuff

Holden Caulfield had it right. The test of a great book, he said in The Catcher in the Rye, was whether, once you finished it, you wished the author were a great friend you could call up at home.

So, who should we call up first?

Posted in writing

Focus, focus, focus

As much as I love blogging (for one thing it makes me want to sit down and write, and I will try very hard to think of something to say), I’ve noticed that since I’ve started my blogs, all my writing energy is going to the blogs. I’ve kind of forgotten about the other things I’ve been working on. Maybe it’s the novelty of the medium for me, or maybe it’s just easier than writing fiction. After all, it’s easier to spout one’s opinion than to invent a universe. I suppose it all comes down to self-discipline. I tried to adhere that old rule of “Never a day without 500 words” but I can’t seem to stick to it.

Mystery writer Lawrence Block made an amusing observation in one of his books (or was it a magazine article? I’ll dig it up later) that “Most writers will go to great lengths to avoid being in the same room with their typewriters.” Obviously that was written some years ago before the invasion of home computers, but I still think it’s true. I tend to push my writing time to the bottom of my priority list, as if it’s too self-indulgent to usurp the position of the laundry, or cleaning the cat box on my list of things to do. And honestly, if the cat box isn’t clean, it’s hard to think about much else! ‘Cause, yeah, wow. Virginia Woolf declared a room of one’s own to be essential for the writer. I have a house of my own, but that’s almost the problem. Maybe I just need to give up the idea of the house in the suburbs, and get a small apartment in the city where I won’t be distracted by the idea that I better go mow the grass, or prune the shrubs, and so on.