categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour
Recently writer and professor Shawna Kenney invited me to take part in an online class at the UCLA Extension Writers Program, visiting virtually by way of Blackboard. Students asked questions, I did my best to answer, and discussion ensued. I got permission from a number of students to use their questions, and I got permission from myself to use my answers. Today my interlocutor is Andrew Ring.
Andrew, damn you, there are a lot of hard questions buried here. Writing sucks, let’s face it. But not writing sucks more. Which is what keeps me writing. When the motivation isn’t there it’s almost always because I’m tired and need to look away for a little bit. So I walk and draw and think a lot and see friends and have a drink and read galore (although reading is sometimes as hard as writing, really part of my writing day), and that in turn creates the inspiration, that big breath in that makes it possible to breathe out again. I don’t always feel that there’s a story I have to tell. I go in bookstores and see the thousands upon thousands of titles and wonder why on earth we need one more book! But I can’t help it, I go back to the desk and write. With my schedule busier than ever (and I don’t even teach anymore!) I have had to learn to write when time is available, and have gotten pretty good at it. A half hour in the car waiting for my daughter at ballet, nine minutes before I have to get on the phone for an interview, two hours after everyone’s in bed. Also longer days at times. I try to write every day, even if only briefly, just to keep my hand in it, and my subconscious actively at work, lying in its hammock in Costa Rica or wherever it lives, fucker. My writing process is like the grieving process: Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression, Acceptance. Also, occasionally, joy. But more and more it’s just sit down and work, with the confidence of many, many years: I’ll get it done, and it’ll be good.