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Monday, May 10, 2004

Why novelists are the most boring people on earth




I have never seen a successful dramatisation of a writer's life. That's because what writers do is really, really boring. Especially if they are writing novels. All you do is sit down and write some words. The next day you try to write some more. Some days it is like pulling teeth. Other days you can put your feet up after an hour because your fingers have been a blur over the keyboard.

I am presently a novelist, which means I am more boring than usual. (Writing poems gives you, theoretically at least, more time to be interesting in - as Petrarch says, a poem can never be judged by the amount of work put into it, since brilliant poems can be written in ten minutes and terrible poems are routinely slaved over for months...but I digress...) My news today is that I had a good day. I wrote 2000 words, my minimum total. I think they are ok. Tomorrow I will look them over again, and fix up a few commas probably, and perhaps think of some nuance that I have left out or fudged. Then I will try to write another 2000 words. And so it goes.

I am feeling a great deal of resistance towards this book at the moment. This is (I think) a good sign: it means I am scared of it, and that might mean that I am pushing in the right direction. But it makes writing like wading through rubber bands. First I have to resist all the possible distractions within my house, and then all the (worse) ones on my desktop, the books, the email, the internet. Once I have evaded all these traps, I have to force myself to write one sentence. And then another sentence. If things go ok, it begins to loosen up after a few sentences. But some days it's gritted teeth all the way.

At the moment it's sort of in between, not quite trying to dig a mine with a plastic spoon, and not quite like flying, but something rather mundanely in between. Like I said, writing is not a spectator sport.

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