Posts Tagged ‘John McPhee’

Noveleeny 1

Sometimes I wonder if I’m ever going to finish my book. I write all the time and yet my forward progress compares unfavorably to that of most slugs. I passed by a tree this evening and saw a slug trail on the bark that was easily eight feet off the ground. That was one ambitious gastropod. As noted railroad guy Robert R. Young once wrote, “The way a person spends his evenings is a part of that thin area between success and failure.”

When I came home from work I put in another 90 minutes, crawled ahead a bit, filled in a gap or two. I can’t resist revisiting earlier chapters and making adjustments, I’d like to think just like a sculptor , though probably the best analogy is to a chiropractor. This is how I work when I write fiction. I take comfort from something I read once about John McPhee:

McPhee has published more than 25 books, even though he rarely writes more than 500 words a day. He once tried tying himself to a chair to force himself to write more, but it didn’t work. He said, “People say to me, ‘Oh, you’re so prolific.’ God, it doesn’t feel like it – nothing like it. But you know, you put an ounce in a bucket each day, you get a quart.”

Writing sometimes feels more like drop-by-drop torture than doling out an ounce. Sometimes an ounce feels like an unattainable body of water. And sometimes the words pour out and you speed ahead, a big rooster tail in your wake. I guess the only thing to do, as many people have said, is to show up for yourself, as I’m doing here for Clarion West. If you write every day, you’ll hit your share of gushers. Then maybe these damn metaphors will stop.

I’m too sexy for my shirt
Tomorrow is the best day of the entire year: my birthday! Your birthday is a pretty good day, but my birthday is the best and it’s about time you acknowledged my total domination of all things birthday. Fortunately for all concerned, I am a generous ruler and I urge you to celebrate along with me on July 3. (I was born an hour and a half before the Fourth – Mom had had enough!)

One more thing: This is my 99th post.

Random Pick of the Day
Jimi Hendrix, Band of Gypsys (1970)
Some records improve over time. This is one. Everything was there when I brought it home from the record store when I was in high school, but it’s only now that I can really appreciate it – or really hear it. “Changes” got the airplay at the time, and deservedly so. But “Message to Love” might be better. You really can’t beat Hendrix’s first three albums, but I keep playing this one.