the writing season

this morning my dad sent me these quotes from stephen king's book on writing.

"Being swept away by a combination of great story and great writing-- of being flattened, in fact-- is part of every writer's necessary formation. You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you." [p.146]

i think this first quote is my favorite. i tend to gravitate toward writing poetry and short stories, but when i think of work i have been flattened by, i think first of essays. the works of e.b. white and adam gopnik, to be exact. jonathan goldstein's short stories as well as his essays have also flattened me. dickens too. i realized recently, and now again reading this quote, that i need to be even more selective about my reading because i want to be flattened more.

"Reading is the creative center of a writer's life. I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in. The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows...." [147]

isn't that lovely imagery? i love his next advice too:
"...I believe the first draft of a book-- even a long one-- should take no more than three months, the length of a season. Any longer and-- for me at least-- the story begins to take on an odd foreign feel, like a dispatch from the Romanian Department of Public Affairs, or something broadcast on high-band shortwave during a period of severe sunspot activity." [154]

writing is a funny creature for me. it's something i think about doing, something i want to be doing, and for some reason, have a harder time actually doing it than i logically should. i find it easier to make excuses or justify doing other things instead, especially when i think of making long commitments or trying to write something longer than a one-page poem. but a season? i love the sound of a season. a season has completion, but it's not as long as a year. it waxes and wanes, like a good story should. i think a writing season sounds just about right.

i don't want to set any large parameters here, for many reasons. mostly, for once, i want to just see what happens, to start writing and see what the end of the season might yield. i don't know what the harvest will be--it may not amount to much more than writing in our journals more often--but even that would be something. i feel like my life looks like this right now


and if i choose to, i can care for it and get more of this

*for the metaphor's sake, i'm pretending those are cherry trees even if they're not. isn't imagination great?


  1. First of all, I am so impressed that you're posting with a new baby in the house. You must be super super cool to still have brain power.

    Second, I'm just getting to Adam Gopnik. What have you read? I just got Paris to the Moon in the mail, and in my head I think you must have read that one because it seems so "you." But I'd love to hear what you recommend.

    Third, maybe I've pitched this already, but have you done/seen The Artist's Way? It's a book by, well, someone. Julia Cameron, that's who. And it's supposed to help you increase creativity in your life and get you writing (or doing whatever sort of creative thing you wanna do) and by all accounts it changes lives. I've done it sort of half-heartedly, and it's made a huge difference, but I have a friend who's been doing it diligently and she can't say enough about it. Maybe you already know all about it, but I think maybe you'd adore it. And I'm about to start it up in earnest, so if you do decide to do it, I'd be delighted to exchange thoughts upon it.

    Okay ... long comment.

    And I love being flattened by books. Yum.

  2. I stole your quote in a book review. Actually a review of just the first 10 pages of East of Eden. I'm already flattened. I hope the rest of the book lives up to the beginning.