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Complications Ensue:
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Sunday, June 18, 2006

[Being a journalist] got stuff I wrote into print. There is nothing for a young author that teaches you how to get better faster than reading something you wrote in print -- suddenly every mistake, every infelicity, every laziness, shows up as if in neon letters.

And the process of transcribing conversations forced me to learn to write dialogue and learn the economies of getting speech patterns into just a few words. (Dialogue -- even "naturalistic dialogue" -- isn't how people speak. So you need to learn to distill.)
Neil Gaiman, in his blog entry, What to Do When You're Crap at 23
I took a creative writing class from Kenneth Koch, back in the day. The most useful thing he ever told us was that you don't have a fixed stock of words, like a woman has a fixed stock of ova, and when you run out, you're done. The more you write, the easier it gets to write. If you're stressing about what you're writing, decide whether it's useful stress. If it's useful, keep going: the stress you feel is the pain of digging deep to find something really good. If the stress is truly blocking you, go write something else.

The young woman I mentioned a little while ago, struggling with her drama, dashed off a horror movie outline which is getting interest. I suggested to her that she write the horror movie. It might free up the drama.

The other useful thing he told us was that people who write successful crap are writing at the top of their ability. Jacqueline Susanne is not writing down to her audience. If she were, she wouldn't sell the numbers she does. Never write crap because you think that's what the audience wants. It won't be good crap. If you have a popular-type muse, your books will be popular. If you have an artistic muse, Lord help you, your books will be artistic. But you'll never do better by second guessing yourself. If you try to write popular when that's not how your muse works, you'll just write unsuccessful artistic books.

Incidentally, I was particularly sorry that Professor Koch, may he rest in peace, died only a week or two before my first book come out. He always said he was terrified I'd become a successful TV writer. (Fortunately, my muse is not inordinately artistic.)I wish I'd been able to tell him I'd got stuff on the air.


You never know how little you actually know about writing screenplays until something you've written gets produced. Then it's a whole new ball game.

By Blogger Bill Cunningham, at 10:47 AM  

A playwright told me you have a useful career of about 20 years. The idea was, where to put that 20 years.

Sounds like garbage, of course, but there are all those writers who had one or two good things, and what are they doing now?

I'm sorry I missed your launch. Will check out your book.

By Blogger Jack Ruttan, at 9:09 PM  

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