Saturday, February 9, 2013

Something Else I'm Working On: 300 words

I love Neil Gaiman.  I love Stephen King more.  On average, I read 2 books a week.  There are a few authors that I will happily read anything they write; and these are two of them.  So when Neil Gaiman interviewed Stephen King and posted it on his blog and discovered it one day, I was happy.  And a goal was born.

Here's what Neil wrote as an intro to the interview with Stephen (yep-we're tight- on a first name basis in my mind):

Edit to add - the Sunday Times asked me to write something small and personal about King and me for the contributors' notes, and I wrote this:

“I think the most important thing I learned from Stephen King I learned as a teenager, reading King's book of essays on horror and on writing, Danse Macabre. In there he points out that if you just write a page a day, just 300 words, at the end of a year you'd have a novel. It was immensely reassuring - suddenly something huge and impossible became strangely easy. As an adult, it's how I've written books I haven't had the time to write, like my children's novel Coraline.”

I've been itching to write a few things for about two and a half years now.  I've been itching for a lot longer than that, but I've finally reached the point that I have something to actually say.  My high school  English teacher was right: it is experience that brings us the perspective to be clear.  I don't think I have a novel, I have a memoir.  Or perhaps a "novel" that is nothing more than my memories through the prism of my ego, the ever exciting autobiographical novel (if only poor James Frey had taken that route, eh?).

But itching to write, no matter how maddening the itch, felt so daunting.  How to begin and who has the time?  One thing I know.  To be a writer one has to write.  So while I considered a class or a writing group or some other educational method to make me write, in the end just another way to rationalize that I wasn't writing while I got educated on writing.  I decided to get my ass down to business.  When I read Neil Gaiman paraphrasing Stephen King saying "300 words a day is all it takes".  Shit.  I can spend 300 words on a well thought out email.  Suddenly it wasn't a matter of how to do it but when.

I've tried to keep journals, both written and online.  But there is something about posting my 300 words publicly that keeps me honest.  I have no illusions that "if you build it, they will come".  Foolishness.  But if I write it, perhaps the writer within will emerge.  That is what I hope for. (372 without the quote)


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