ask for my writing advice, even though after decades of pounding my
fists bloody at the gates, New York still treats me like the most
talented leper they’ve ever met. I don’t know how to take a
manuscript and tweak it so it’ll sell right away. I don’t have a
secret formula for writing a bestseller (and I have noticed that
people who claim to have one have never had a bestseller).
I do have is a whole lot of decades worth of experience as a writer,
and getting published. I’ve had the cheap thrill of being called a
genius, and I was smart enough to realize just how cheap it was. People
seem to be amused by what I have to say about it.
it’s educational. Maybe it’s just entertaining.
I’m currently working on Zyx;
Or, Bring Me the Brain of Victor Theremin,
and the going is getting weird. The joyous noodling around has gotten
long, and complicated, and now screams for structure. I have multiple
characters and plot lines that would go totally out of
control if I just kept noodling.
Try selling a novel built like a plate
of spaghetti . . .
I start writing anything,(including this) I make notes in brackets
and all caps. I’ve found it to be a good way to outline my ideas,
put down things that should be included from brainstorming and
research. As I write, I delete what’s been covered, and go on.
have gotten so bizarre with Zyx
I’ve started putting the bracketed notes in boldface to make
finding them easier . . .
though I do some outlining--stuff needs to be hung on a
framework--I’m more of a pantser than planner. Being an artist
trapped in a writer’s career, images come before words, and I like
to keep them loose and sketchy. That’s because things change as you
work on them.
a writer, I’ve spent most of my life building a story-making
machine in my brain. It goes way down into my subconscious. It’s
always gathering things I see, hear about, and experience, selecting
the best of the weird shit and rearranging it into stories.
Now and then you have to stop, take a deep breath, pull your nose out of the details, step back, and take a look at what the hell the big picture is becoming.
good thing is, I don’t have to think about it; it works when I’m
going around taking care of the day-to-day business. The bad thing
is, like Emily and I have often said, a short story is like a bout
with the flu, while novels are more like demonic possession. The
monster in the back of my brain takes on a life of its own and demands
more of my synapses, because it wants a more complex structure. The
abstract expressionist splatter/jazz solo mutates into a widescreen,
holographic, CGI symphony/Diego Rivera mural.
that while having a job, a family, and all the usual stuff of life!
people have the foolish idea that this is some kind of civilized
go ahead, try this at home. Stand back. See what happens.
I should probably get down to doing it rather than writing about it .