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“A messy and mysterious process”

October 15, 2011

Those were the words used by Paul Theroux to describe the writing of fiction in, er – was it ‘My Secret History’? Wherever it comes from, it’s a phrase that’s both true and reassuring.

More cheering advice from Geoff Dyer on the Guardian’s ‘how to write fiction‘ thread yesterday:

“…you don’t have to know what kind of book you are writing until you have written a good deal of it, maybe not until you’ve finished it – maybe not even then.”

 

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2 comments

  1. No kidding. After much prodding from friends and families I decided to write a novel based upon my experiences with Anti-Submarine warfare during the Cold War. It’s getting there, but you’re posted quote:

    “…you don’t have to know what kind of book you are writing until you have written a good deal of it, maybe not until you’ve finished it – maybe not even then.”

    is square in the black. I hope to have it finished some day, sooner rather than later, but like Ruso, it seems to be always just tantalizingly out of reach.

    Thanks for the great reading pleasures your books have given me. I’m eagerly awaiting my recently purchased copy of “Caveat Emptor”.

    V/R


    • Thanks Tim. Somehow writing is never as easy as we think it should be, is it? But it sounds as tho’ you have a marvellous subject for a novel.

      There’s a quote from Frank Darabont pinned above my desk (he wrote the screenplay for The Shawshank Redemption, and much else), to the effect that if you want to write well and are constantly pushing yourself to work to the limits of your ability, ‘…the perverse down-side of seeking one’s limits is that one usually finds them, which is akin to running… into a brick wall on a daily basis. The good news is, every time you smack into it, that wall gets pushed a little further back…’

      Sorry I can’t tell you where that came from: I picked it up in the days before I realised that if you don’t reference things it’s really hard to find them again.

      Good luck with running into the wall!



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